South African sports betting increasing

The South African National gambling Board (NGB) reported late last year that land based casinos still generate the most money in the broad gambling industry but that in the fiscal year covered by the report, land based casinos had actually lost revenue. 

In other words, land based casinos are still at the top of the gambling pyramid in South Africa but they are losing ground to other gambling opportunities.  We can imagine all the other gambling opportunities that may or may not have made inroads in the hegemonic leadership of land based casinos.  Online games, LPM (Low Payout Machines), lotteries, and sports betting are all growing and present a strong challenge to the leadership of the land based casinos.


Fiscal Year in Review


The gambling sector overall gained 3.8% in fiscal 2017 to R27 billion.  Just a fraction shy of two-thirds of this revenue came from land based casinos, revenues from which actually decreased by 1.8% in fiscal 2017.

A decrease of 1.8% may seem small but we need to compare it to gains in other gambling sectors.  Sports betting and horseracing each saw increases in the past fiscal year of almost 15%.  Since horseracing is a form of sports betting, it could be said that sports betting rose by about 30% in 2017 but that would be misleading.

When we talk about sports betting, we mean betting on sports games in every sporting category.  Sports betting has also come to encompass non-sports betting such as on entertainment prizes, election outcomes, and many other aspects of modern life on which people are willing to place a wager.

LPM and bingo also increased revenue but it is in the sports betting niche that the future of gambling in South Africa may be found.


Online Casinos


Before we sugue to sports betting we should discuss online casinos for a moment.  The law regarding online casinos is still vague and South Africans actually enjoy online games as much as they enjoy any other form of gambling.  online casinos would certainly offer stern competition to all forms of gambling if the law were less murky.  The day when there will be no doubts about the value of online casinos is not far off.


Sports Betting


Worldwide, sports betting is in its bright “infancy” headed toward a vibrant “adulthood”.   There are so many sports, leagues, competitions, tournaments, and sports activities that punters love the endless action.

Sports betting affords players the chance to outwit the professionals in the sports, both the athletes and the coaches on the sports side and professional analysts on the gambling side.

Sports betting is legal in South Africa both online and at land based venues.


Emerging Betting Market


Where sports betting is legal and fully regulated, punters can place bets on dozens of games and events.  Many sites that take sports bets also streamline the games and competitions so gamblers need not pay for expensive cable hook ups.

There are many ways to bet on sports and new gamblers must take the time to study the various betting options before beginning to place bets on sports. For instance, in American football there are three possible leading bets. There are also a large number of lesser bets that defy prediction.  The three bets that do allow for analysis and prediction are winner or loser; over under; and the spread.

Winner or loser is a straight bet on the outcome of the game with no regard for the score.  Over under is a bet on whether the aggregate number of points scored will be over a set number or under it.  The spread is the expected differential between the expected winning team and the expected losing team.

If you feel that team A will win by 7 points, you bet to that effect but if they win by only 6 points you lose your bet.  Similarly, a team that is expected to lose by a wide margin can win many bets for gamblers by losing by a smaller margin.

A similar range of bets is possible in almost all sports events or competitions so punters are well advised to become armchair experts on one or two sports instead of spreading themselves too wide and missing out on important information that would affect their betting.


The United States


Billions of dollars are bet on sports in the US each year but only a small fraction of it is legal as a law from 1992 made sports betting illegal in all but the four states where some form of sports betting was already legal.  As you might expect, Las Vegas is in one of the states where sports betting was and remains legal.

The law from 1992 is being challenged in the US Supreme Court and sports betting may become legal in all states if the court repeals the law.  The significance is that Americans would then begin to pay attention to sports all over the world including in South Africa.

If the world’s largest economy begins betting on South African rugby, cricket, or football, we can expect to hear criticism from the states about how managers ran competitions based on how well the American punters did on their bets.  The South African government needs to make sure that the integrity of our sports is not threatened by American sports bettors.


The Situation at Home


As the report for fiscal 2017 shows, sports betting has joined online casino betting as the prime choices of South African bettors.  Even as sports betting is permitted online and raises revenue for the government, it should clear up all the murkiness in the online casino gambling sector so that the government can realize the full potential in revenues from that source as well.