First, there were land-based casinos. Then the casinos became available online for online gaming entertainment. Now there are online casino South Africa social casinos where people can enjoy quick, no-deposit entertainment on their phones or tablets.

In South Africa, social casinos are gaining in popularity among players in every demographic. Yet many are reporting that this type of gaming is unsatisfactory. 

Statistics say that many players start out playing in a social casino but quickly move on to a real money online or brick-and-mortar venue.  

If you like to play casino games, are social casinos the best option? 

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What Is a Social Casino?

A social casino is a website or an app where you can play popular casino games like blackjack, roulette, video poker or slots with online friends. You can access the games by downloading an app for your computer, in your web browser or into your mobile device. Some social games can be found by an Internet search but most pop up on your social media.

There are two big advantages to social casino gaming. One is that you aren’t gambling when you play at a social casino. And secondly, you don’t bet real money when you play since the games are only for entertainment purposes.  Of course, you also don’t win real money, either.

Some brick-and-mortar casinos run social casinos to stay in touch with their customers and reach out to potential visitors. Other social casinos are run by independent companies or social media platforms. Social casinos are preferred by many people who want to play virtual versions of their favorite casino without being obligated to place real money bets.


Operators offer social casinos for free. The casinos give out virtual coins so that players can lay bets on the games. When the coins run out, they must be re-stocked in order to continue playing. Coins are generally re-stocked on an hourly or daily basis. In-game purchases are also available. 

If a player finds him/herself running low on coins and wants to continue playing without waiting for a refill, there’s an option to purchase additional coins for real money. But even here, it’s possible to find a free alternative – request to “borrow” coins from friends. If you’re wondering about the generosity here, just remember that the goal of the casino is to draw individuals into the gaming culture. The more you play, the more you might want to play, so you might visit the casino to gamble in person or you might access some of the casino’s online options. By involving your friends, you might even draw those friends into the gaming mindset.

But if you’re looking for free gaming and to connect with friends who also like to play, you need to be careful with your play time to enjoy social casinos for no charge at all.

Is it for You?

People are finding multiple reasons to play social casino games. They enjoy chatting with friends while playing, sharing virtual poker tables and competing against others in friendly games of slots, card games and table games. There are even special events at some casinos  where you try to get the highest numbers on a leaderboard. As you exchange coins you can meet new virtual friends which whom to chat or share a game. 


Yet for all the advantages of social casinos, it seems to attract only beginning players.  Gamers who are looking for a more interactive and challenging gaming event generally turn to a land-based casino or to one of South Africa’s online casino sites like our very own Thunderbolt Casino. 

In a survey of players who have moved from a social casino to an online casino, feedback was mixed.  In general, people appreciated the fact that the social casino carried no monetary risk and, as such, is available to those who don't gamble for moral, religious, or other personal reasons. But overall, players were frustrated by the lack of opportunities to achieve real money wins.

Many stated that there was a smaller game variety at the social casino than at the online casino. Some also reported that they had been approached by “friends” who turned out to be trying to scam them.

While social casinos are a great way to hone your skills at games like poker or blackjack, they lack the level of anticipation and excitement that real money casinos offer. Commercial casinos actually suggest that people practice the games at a social casino so that next time they play in a real casino they will have a better chance of winning. But for those who find the allure of winning real money to be the crux of casino entertainment, a social casino leaves much to be desired.


Just as gamers at a real money casino risk losses, players at social casinos face their own risks. For one thing,  playing no-money games may lead people to behave recklessly when they play at a real casino.  And studies show that there’s an increased risk of eventual gambling addiction among people who get used to playing for free at a social casino and then cross over to a real money casino. 

Finally, the social casinos lure people in by offering free games but then offer “extras” including options to pay for gifts for friends, more playing time, etc. Such voluntary payments add up quickly but people often don’t notice because they are excited by the action and pizazz offered at the gaming machines.

So if you're looking for the thrill of the win, stick with real money online casinos, like Thunderbolt. 

And we haven't even touched on the fact that Thunderbolt offers so much more - more games, more options, more promotions, more freebies - we'll leave that for another day.