Africa is one of the world’s largest continents, with over 20 percent of the global land mass. More than 50 independent countries share its vast territory. It is a force to be considered very carefully regarding gambling in the world and that includes online casinos too.
Although most of the countries do have legalized gambling, the official activities are intense, indeed they are quite limited in scope. Lotteries are found in most countries, and while half or more do have casinos, these are mostly confined to single facilities in major cities. The major force in confining the existence of officially recognized gambling is the abject poverty found in most corners of the continent, especially in lands below the Sahara Desert.
Along with poverty, conditions of external as well as internal violence and the accompanying political instability and authoritarian rule make those who would invest in casinos wary of such ventures. There are exceptions, but these are mainly found in North Africa and in the Union of South Africa.
The North African countries have populations which are predominately Muslim Arabs whose religion offers a general condemnation of gambling activity. Casinos do exist in three of the six countries; however, they do not let their local residents play in the facilities. Morocco has six casinos. It is also the only country of the region with a lottery and horse race betting. Tunisia has seven casinos. Egypt has 26 casinos, with 20 of them located in major hotels in Cairo. These cater to visiting businessmen, mostly from Saudi Arabia but also Europeans and Americans. The successful Egyptian casinos share their wealth with the government, which collects 50 percent of their table and slot revenue in taxation.
Casino gaming emerged in South Africa only in recent years, but all this shifted in the 1990s as forces of reform compelled the white leadership of South Africa to yield to majority sentiment, and a new majority (nonwhite) democratic government was created.
The new central government decided that casino gaming should remain and be expanded. Over the years, several hundred illegal casinos were in operation. New legal casinos were needed to become a force to allow strong government action to close down illegal gaming. A national lottery was created to allow up to 40 casinos.
The established casinos of the homelands were not automatically guaranteed licenses. After the first round of licensing, 9 of the 17 homeland casinos remained operating. The National Gambling Board was created and established uniform standards for casinos, as well as an inspection authority.
Outside the boundaries of South Africa, nearby governments have also permitted casinos. Zimbabwe and Zambia have casino facilities near the Victoria Falls tourist attraction; Lesotho and Swaziland also have casinos. All the countries of the region of southern Africa also offer lottery gaming.