The most popular casino games in South Africa

The most popular casino games in South Africa


The history of gambling in South Africa is long and storied, with the act been heavily restricted by the government for the past 500 years. Despite that government involvement, gambling in the country still remains incredibly popular. South Africa has the highest number of licenced land-based casinos of any country in Africa – with 40.

Gambling has a huge market in the country – with 96% of the population having bought a lottery ticket, and casinos and horse racing are both hugely popular activities.

The government has predicted gambling revenues of well over 30 billion Rand in the next year. This adds a welcome boosts to state coffers, providing vital reinvestment in public services such as transport, schools and hospitals. But when compared to other countries such as the UK, where the industry is completely legal and regulated, South Africa is still not making the most out of gambling. It’s governed by the Gambling Amendment Act, which strictly forbids online gambling and dog racing. However, people still carry out these activities illegally – and the black market is estimated to be worth around 1.5 billion Rand per year.

South Africans clearly have a huge passion for gambling – so let’s take a look at the most popular games.

Slot machines

When you think about a classic casino your brain probably conjures images of James Bond playing high-stakes poker, not a slot machine. But worldwide, there is no form of gambling more popular than slots. Enter any casino in the world and the amount of slot machines will dwarf the amount of traditional table games. This is true also in South Africa, where 25% of the population enjoys playing slots.

Once upon a time a casino slot machine was pretty basic, but today they’ve evolved into high-end immersive experienced with are just as engaging as top consumer titles. Slot machines are present in all of South Africa’s casinos – and they have among the largest house edges as any casino game, at 90%.


A simple guide to baccarat.

Although the popularity of baccarat is on the decline across the world, the game seems to be thriving in South Africa. The most popular variants of baccarat in South African casinos are Chemin de Fer, Banque and Punto Banco.

The attraction of the game for punters in the relative simplicity of play combined with the fact there are so many ways to win. The house edge for baccarat is normally just 1% which makes the game more lucrative than the majority of other casino games. As such, players stand the best chances of winning with the right approach to the game. Here’s an expert guide that’ll guide you through three tried-and-test types of baccarat strategy.

The halcyon days of baccarat were in the 1960s and 1970s when the game was popularised by the original James Bond film Casino Royale. 007 isn’t the only famous name to have enjoyed baccarat with Napoleon rumoured to have been a keen player of the game also.


Chris Moneymaker’s epic bluff against Sammy Farha in the WSOP is credited with kick-starting the worldwide popularity of Texas Hold ‘Em poker.

Chris Moneymaker is perhaps the most important name in the history of poker. Two decades ago he entered the World Series of Poker as a complete amateur and left it as a legend of the game after bluffing notorious card shark Sammy Farha.

Viral phenomena wasn’t really a thing when Moneymaker made this epic bluff but his story soon travelled around the world. That tale of daring helped to revitalise poker as a game of the masses after several decades of stagnation.

In modern day South Africa poker – particularly Texas Hold ‘Em – is by far the most popular card game available in any casino. Worldwide poker remains popular in land-based casinos but its biggest participation levels are online.



If you want to get rich quick, there isn’t a better casino game than roulette. This exciting game of chance remains incredibly alluring to South African punters because of that reason. In spite of that belief, roulette has one of the largest house edges of any casino table game, putting it almost on par with slot machines.

Roulette is a casino game that has enjoyed the spotlight in media representations throughout the decades. In most films and TV shows featuring gambling we always see roulette portrayed as the ultimate get-rich-quick casino game.

Modern tales of people like Ashley Revell have also helped to maintain the popularity of roulette. At the turn of the millennium British man Ashley Revell sold all of his worldy possessions and used the money he had raised to place an all-or-nothing bet at a roulette table in Las Vegas.

As luck would have it, Revell’s colour came in and he doubled his money. This inspired frenzied media interest and has been cited as the inspiration for media mogul Simon Cowell’s TV production Red or Black.


Another casino game that has benefitted from its depiction in modern media is blackjack. In the 1980s Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman helped boost the profile of the game following the movie Rain Man.

The simplicity of Blackjack and the relatively low house edge have also contributed to the game’s popularity. Unlike poker, baccarat and perhaps even roulette, there is no feeling of exclusivity to blackjack. It’s a simple game too – you’re competing against the dealer to get closest to the value of 21 without going over.

You don’t need to be a seasoned card pro to dip into a game of blackjack nor do you need to be a veteran of the casino scene. Blackjack is a welcoming game and often the first port of call for those visiting a casino for the first time.

The future of gambling in South Africa

While government opposition to gambling remains strong, the economic arguments to legalising online gambling are undeniably compelling. Gambling enthusiasts and operators will be hoping South Africa follows the path of the US, where many are predicting the gambling market to open up – following the overturning of the PASPA ruling in May 2018. In a regulated and open gambling industry, South Africa’s casino players will have even more options to have a flutter on their favourite games.