Where To Play Poker in South Africa


South Africa has become an increasingly popular tourist destination of the last few decades, and the country has thrived as a result. There is so much to see and do here, South Africa really does have a little bit of everything, making for some very diverse experiences. Whether you want breath-taking vistas over lush rivers and forested mountains, desert dunes, or stunning rocky coastlines, you’ll find them here. From back-to-nature safaris and bush camping, to luxurious suites in ultra-modern cities, South Africa has everything you could ever want from a holiday.

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And amongst all the affluence of cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town you will find some stunning casinos and poker rooms that cater to everyone, from the first-time chancers, to the high rollers.

The gambling industry is another thriving industry in South Africa. With 43 casinos distributed between 34 different cities, and a number of poker rooms to boot, there are plenty of options to choose from. And unlike some other tourist gambling hotspots, these are open to locals as well. No expense has been spared by the casinos in creating wonderful entertainment complexes to rival those in Las Vegas. Combining hotels and casinos with shops, restaurants, bars and clubs, you might find that there’s no need to leave!maiden's cover camps bay cape town

All of the casinos operate the usual games that you would expect to find, including blackjack, slots, roulette and poker, with the latter being a particular favourite amongst locals and visitors alike. Poker is hugely popular in South Africa and if you’ve never played before then this could be the place to give it a try. You’ll find regular events at every level, including beginner, so have a crash course in how to play poker, learn the poker lingo and get ready to hit the tables.


Capital of Poker in Africa

Poker has truly made its mark on the country, and this has led to South Africa being crowned the capital of African poker. It even has its own poker tournament, affiliated with World Poker Tours, that draws competitors from all over the continent. But South Africa’s successes at the poker tables are not confined to the country; there have been several South African poker players who have made a name for themselves on the international circuit. The highest ranked according to the Global Poker Index is Jarred Solomon, who has racked up big wins all over Africa, as well as in Australia and the USA, regularly making the final table at WSOP events.

Much of the appeal of poker comes from the South African Government’s willingness to embrace the industry, thus making it accessible to everyone, whether as a player or an avid spectator. Unlike many other African countries, poker and other forms of gambling, including the lottery and horse racing, are fully legal. However, this wasn’t always the case. Historically, gambling in South Africa had been very restricted. In 1965 a law was passed that made all forms, apart from horse racing, illegal.

But, like in other countries across the world, this didn’t stop people from finding ways to gamble, and forty years later there was around 2000 illegal casinos operating across the country. Realising that they were losing the battle, the South African Government decided to legalise gambling in 2006, meaning that they would now be able to reap a share of the profits through issuing gambling licenses and taxing profits. And while some casinos stayed underground, many legalised their efforts, and the change in the law also drew in new businesses looking to cash in on the gambling tourism they knew would come.


Online Poker In South Africa

One area where the South African Government has remained behind the times though, is online gambling. It remains illegal to operate an online casino from South African soil, and also to play in one. Although, no player has ever been prosecuted, leading many to believe that the Government is more interested in chasing out operators than shutting down the industry completely. As such, there are many international online casinos which are more than happy to accept South African players, and industry insiders believe that the Government is on the verge of issuing updated guidance on the matter. But until then, online poker sits in the grey area of not being legal, but also not being enforced.

It’s always a good idea to know the legislation surrounding gambling when you intend to play in other countries. Thankfully, South Africa have kept it nice and simple. Nearly every major city in the country has a legal casino where locals, ex-pats and tourists are all welcomed with open arms. You’ve also got a good chance of finding an event to spectate, with a bit of poker celebrity spotting always on the cards. So, whatever your initial reasons for coming to South Africa, playing a hand or two of poker along the way is another thing to add to your bucket list.

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