The Top South African Poker Sites in 2018

When online poker markets are discussed, many people forget that South Africans comprise an impressive portion of the world’s players. And while the nation struggles with its gambling laws, as do governments in many other parts of the world, poker continues to thrive and grow.

A nation of approximately 55 million people is bound to produce some amazing poker players, and none is better known than Raymond Rahme. In 2007, Rahme was already in his 60s and had been playing live tournament poker across the African continent for years when he traveled to Las Vegas to play in the World Series of Poker Main Event. He not only made the final table as the first African player to do so, he went on to finish in third place for more than $3 million. His success inspired numerous players to log on and play online poker, which boosted the number of South Africans in the game, both live and online.

Since then, tournament organizers have taken the WSOP and WPT to South Africa, inspiring even more players to explore poker. Players like Jarred Solomon and Ronit Chamani are some of the better-known competitors to hail from the Republic of South Africa in the years since Rahme’s final table.

As with so many other countries, South Africa is still grappling with the idea of online gambling, and most of the attempts at regulations and laws have grouped poker in with other forms of gambling. This has diluted the interpretations of those laws, as poker is widely recognized as a skill game. In addition, the laws are ambiguous enough that many poker operators still offer their online services to South Africans today, despite pulling out of other markets that have stricter and clearer laws.

Best Rooms for Players in South Africa

The players of South Africa still frequent sites like PokerStars out of an undisputed love of the game. And because of their tenacity, there are still numerous options for online poker players to access their favorite games via some of the top poker operators in the world.

Legal Happenings in 2018

South Africa has a history of being tough on most forms of gambling, but democracy brought more of a liberal attitude about it in the 1990s. All forms of gambling were legalized and regulated by the National Gambling Act of 1996, though online poker and casino games were not yet a factor in the decision.

In order to address online gambling, the National Gambling Act of 2004 passed to try to prohibit internet games, though many other forms of online betting related to sports remained legal. A new version of that bill was then passed in 2008 to legalize online gambling and regulate the market, but the bill never went into effect. Yet another bill in 2010 tried to assert that online gambling operators must locate their serves in South Africa, but that issue went to the high court, where the ruling essentially agreed with the 2004 prohibition law.

Since then, the government has not only struggled to solidify its position but to enforce it. Some banks continue to process deposits and withdrawals for South African players, and operators – even some that are publicly traded – still welcome South Africans to their online poker tables. While all companies do run some risk of being in the market if officials do decide to crack down on internet gambling operators, there is a very low risk of any players being prosecuted. No governments have fought against online gambling by going after the players on the sites.

The latest development came in early 2018 when a member of Parliament introduced the Remote Gambling Act to ban all online gambling activity, regardless of location or licensing. There is little chance this bill will move too much further because of the mass numbers of South Africans who bet on sports, but it remains to be see how the bill will be handled as the year progresses.

Meanwhile, South Africans continue to gamble online. Whether they are betting on soccer or playing online poker, people around the country enjoy the freedom of playing real-money games online. And until the government decides to take more than a principled stand on the subject, poker players will continue to seek the best online poker sites for their flops, turns, and rivers.

Important Aspects of South African Poker Websites

The most important aspect of any online poker site catering to South African players is the ability to enable smooth deposits and withdrawals, as well as to protect those funds. Players should compete on sites that have long reputations of timely player payments and high levels of security.

How to Choose an Online Poker Site Open to South Africans

It can be tough to know exactly which sites accept South African players, as there are few comprehensive lists of sites and their open territories. There are, however, some ways to check your favorite sites:

  • Visit the site and try to create an account. If there are no error messages, the site is safe.
  • The home page of the site may show a deposit bonus in rand.
  • Look at the deposit methods and see if they list special options for South Africa.
  • Call, email, or live chat with a customer service representative.
  • Check our reviews here to see which sites are recommended for South Africans.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question:  Is online poker specified in current South African laws?

Answer:  Online poker is grouped with online casino games and other forms of internet games with definitions that do not separate games of skill from games of chance.

Question:  How will I know if my favorite site leaves the South African market?

Answer:  Any site that leaves a particular market will notify players before doing so. The poker operator will send notices and post messages on the site. Players will have plenty of time to transfer funds to another site or withdraw funds from that poker online account.

Question:  What are the best ways to deposit money from South Africa?

Answer:  Mastercard and Visa are common methods, but not all banks will process those transactions. Ewallets like Neteller and Skrill are dependable and fast, while sites like BetOnline that accept cryptocurrency are becoming more popular.

Question:  What languages do customer service agents speak?

Answer:  Most sites do not have customer service representatives fluent in most official languages of South Africa, but all do have English-speaking agents.

Question:  Will I have to pay for currency conversions?

Answer:  There are no major online poker sites that use South African currency, so funds will have to be converted to dollars or euros for playing poker. They will convert again upon withdrawing money. Most payment processors do charge for converting money, though they vary.