Sports Betting in South Africa v USA

Make Sports Betting Great Again

In 2017, my wife and I were granted a 3-year visa allowing us to live and work in the United States. At the time, PASPA, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 outlawed sports betting, but the word was out this law was on the verge of being overturned. The only place you could legally bet on sports until PASPA was finally struck down on 14 May 2018, was none other than Las Vegas aka Sin City—and the rest of Nevada to be more precise.

After that, all hell broke loose. In a good way. With the federal government ban no longer in place, the door was open for lawmakers in each state to decide for themselves whether they wanted to allow sports books to open and earn some good tax money on top of it! Since PASPA was overruled in 2018, 16 new states have joined the punting party by fully legalizing sports betting. Those in the know predict this trend will continue until most of the country is betting legally in a couple of years. 

South African bookies are cut from the right cloth

Having now lived in the United States for three years I have a good idea of how the sports betting industry compares to what we have in South Africa. Firstly, the good news for South Africans, is that we’ve got it really good! The amount of choice we have in terms of where we can bet, what we can bet on, how we can bet and the ease with which we can withdraw our money, is out of the top drawer. Currently there are over 30 online bookies in South Africa that you can choose from, incredible! There are a few reasons for this which I’ll get into now.

Legalized sports betting has its origins in Europe, and the South African industry closely follows the same model. Some of the biggest sports books like Bet365, Betfair and Pinnacle have all been in the game for 20-30 years, helping them develop fantastic products and set the benchmark for industry success. With European bookies like Sportingbet operating in South Africa from the early days, we got off on the right foot and punters have been spoilt with great products ever since. Betway, with their many years of experience followed suit, and local operators that have since entered the market, are all leading by example!

5 Reasons Why American Sports Betting Is Still Far Behind

Dude, where’s my bet slip?

Although online betting is allowed in some states where sports betting has been legalised, there are others where you can only place your bets in a brick-and-mortar sportsbook or casino. What that means is even in some states where sports betting is legal, punters are still not receiving the full benefit and convenience of online betting like the rest of the world.

For those sites where online betting is an option for punters, there’s also a catch, and it’s a big one! Because sports betting is not legal countrywide, and only within certain states, you cannot place a sports bet outside of the state in which you live. Imagine that!? You could be visiting a friend to watch the big game and you won’t be able to place a bet because you’re outside of the legal borders. Pathetic to say the very least!

Bro, but the game’s already started!?

In-play betting is something that punters in South Africa almost take for granted. For most of us, placing bets on live games is a big part of sports betting and it’s hard to imagine a world without it. But for many Americans who live in legalized sports betting states, to place a live bet they are forced to wait in a queue. Yes, you read correctly! 

Because so many of the sports betting products on the American market are brand-new, not all of them have incorporated in-play betting yet. The bookies who’ve been slow to introduce online live betting are doing it old school, the same way it’s been done in some Vegas sports books for many years—by making punters stand in line with their eyes glued to a TV screen, hoping their in-play bet is still a good one by the time they get to the window. Ludicrous!

I see what you did there

In the ripe American sports betting market, it was inevitable that some sports books would take full advantage of naive bettors who don’t know their overs from their underwear. In South Africa, no matter where we choose to bet, we’re given a fair chance of winning.

Bookies add a 10% margin, or at worst 15% to their odds, so that in a 50/50 coin-toss scenario we’re usually getting 1.90 on either side—and the same goes for most operators in Europe. In the United States though, some bookies are offering as little at 1.70 on either side for punters, meaning their margin is a whopping 30%. Get outta here!

Did someone say, Cash Out?

The ‘Cash Out’ feature we all know and love in South Africa is being introduced in some online American sportsbooks, but it’s been a slow process so far. Cash Out is only in the beta testing phase for many bookies and they won’t offer it as a regular feature to punters for quite some time. Get with the programme, boomers!

Build a bet? Out of what?

Another nifty feature we’re lucky to have in South Africa is ‘Build a Bet‘ offered by Sportingbet and a few bookies. America is way behind in terms of offering these kinds of markets. There are special markets that include prop bets for big games like the Super Bowl, but the idea of allowing punters to create their own bets by combining markets has not yet caught on. Unsurprisingly, William Hill USA, with their European heritage are ahead of the curve with their ‘Your Odds’ feature which is essentially the same as Build a Bet.

Proudly South African

So before you get ahead of yourself thinking everything in America is always bigger and better, take it from me that South African sports bettors have a good time of it! Our status above America helped by our European counterparts might well change with more time, experience and investment. But for now, we reign supreme.

Visit the Best Sports Betting home page for more on Sports Betting in South Africa.

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