Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


  1. What does the SARGF do?

The South African Responsible Gambling Foundation is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the prevention and treatment of problem gambling.

We have helped over 16,000 problem gamblers through our treatment and counselling programme and have been in operation for over 20 years.

  1. What is the difference between South Africa Responsible Gambling Foundation (SARGF) and National Responsible Gambling Programme (NRGP)?

The NRGP is the flagship programme of the SARGF.

It is a world-renowned responsible gambling programme, providing the following three services:

research into problem gambling
treatment and counselling
prevention through education and public awareness campaign

  1. Who funds the SARGF?

SARGF is funded by licensed gambling Operators (excluding the National Lottery) and the contribution is 0.1% of Gross Gambling Revenue (GGR), that is, amount staked/wagered less winnings paid to players. 

The Foundation also undertakes special projects at the request of provincial gambling boards, which then pay for these services.  As a not for profit company (NPC) and like many other NPCs in South Africa, the Foundation operates on a limited budget.

  1. It seems strange that the operators who are creating the problem are the ones funding the Foundation. How does this work?

We are an independent organisation with a high level of autonomy. Gambling is a leisure and entertainment activity that should be enjoyed, however we all know that some people can take it too far and develop an addiction or problem.

The operators know this and are willing to help by funding an organisation like ours that will step in and help. It is the socially responsible thing to do. It is part of their contribution towards a society.

  1. How do the operators comply with increasing awareness around responsible gambling?

Not only do licensed gambling Operators provide funding, they also support the Foundation’s National Responsible Gambling Programme (NRGP), including awareness interventions through their own communication campaigns.  Their adverts are accompanied by a responsible gambling slogan/ tagline, like “Winners know when to stop”. NRGP collateral such as slot machine stickers, posters and information brochures are also made available at licensed gambling points, raising awareness on problem gambling and the NRGP’s services, namely, counselling and treatment programmes.  Education programmes are run for operators’ employees, to equip them in identifying problem gamblers and what to do when they come across a problem gambler.

  1. Who is the Executive Director of the Foundation?

Mrs. Sibongile Simelane- Quntana was appointed as Executive Director in February 2016 and has over 10 years of experience with solid background in research, managing institutional programmes, organisational planning, policy development, project management, programmes evaluation and monitoring. She is currently completing her Masters’ Degree in Public Administration and Management with the University of the Witwatersrand, and holds Post Graduate Diploma in Public Administration and Management, a Post Graduate Diploma in Arts and a Bachelor’s Degree in Education with the University of the Witwatersrand. 

  1. Who is the Chairperson of the Board?

Advocate Joe Nalane was appointed on the 25TH July 2016 as the Chairperson of the Foundation.  Advocate Nalane brings a wealth of leadership experience with a solid a background in law as an advocate and a former attorney at the High Court of South. Advocate Nalane is a graduate of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Johannesburg where he obtained the following B.Proc. (UKZN), a L.L.B. (Wits), and a L.L.M. in Corporate Law from UJ.

  1. What does the new SARGF logo mean/ symbolise?

Use of the circle shape refers to:

Holistic approach to treatment
Collaborative inclusive approach with stakeholders
The hole in the middle represents openness and transparency
The circle is closed representing confidentiality

Use of bright colours:

Optimism, positivity, strength

Three colours/areas:

Refers to the three areas of focus
Red- Research, advocacy, and stakeholder mobilisation
Blue- Comprehensive treatment and counselling
Yellow- Problem gambling prevention, through responsible gambling education and awareness campaigns.
The colours flow into one another to inform process- It is through research, collaboration and treatment that we are able to be authority on responsible gambling behaviour.


  1. What percentage of population are problem gamblers?

3 % of the South African population are problem gamblers.

  1. How do you define a problem gambler?

A problem gambler is some one who continues to gamble despite the negative consequences or impact it may be having on his/her life and has no desire to stop. For instance, someone who continues to gamble when they are in debt or facing financial challenges.

  1. What are the signs of a problem gambler?

There are many signs that a problem gambler may exhibit. Normally family members, work colleagues or friends may pick up that the person becomes withdrawn, they may be tired a lot of the time, they may be asking for money or loans. They may report feeling lost or feeling hopeless. They seem worried or aggitated for no apparent reason. They may be spending long periods of time away from home or at the casino.

  1. As a specialist in the treatment of problem gambling, would you say that levels of addiction are declining, increasing or stable in South Africa at present?

The Foundation refer and fund the treatment of 590 individuals with gambling disorders annually and this number has remained constant over the past 5 years.  However, we have seen an increase in Internet, under-age and illegal gambling related problems and a decrease in casino and horse racing betting related problem gambling.  Of this 590 individuals referred for treatment, 48% attend four or more therapy sessions and more than 25% are abstinent from gambling when they finish the programme.  Long term follow-up studies have not been undertaken yet. 

10% of patients re-enter the programme as a result of relapse.  Patients unfortunately only seek help once they have reached rock bottom and that the majority of problem gamblers never seek help.  We also refer and fund the treatment of 1200 family members per year.

  1. What should people do if they think a friend, colleague or family member is a problem gambler?

They should contact us on our free and confidential helpline 0800 006 008. We are available 24/7.

  1. How many people have the SARGF helped to overcome problem gambling habits and for how many years has SARGF being doing this?

SARGF has a 16 year track record and has helped more than 16 000 people who were negatively affected by their gambling habits and addictions.

  1. What is the SARGF treatment programme?

All the Foundation’s services are free of charge and available 24 hours a day. These services include an outpatient and inpatient treatment programme as well as the provision of a counselling line, which is manned by trained and qualified professionals.

The outpatient programme comprises of face-to-face counselling and is aligned to the practices regulated by the Health Practitioners Council of South Africa and other recognized international best practices.

Patients on this programme undergo a minimum of 8 to 10 face-to-face counselling sessions, depending on the recovery and progress of the individual

The NRGP provides inpatient treatment services to individuals who are suffering from severe or chronic problem gambling disorders. Patients admitted to this programme are provided with 28 sessions within a hospital or clinic environment. Highly qualified psychologists, psychiatrists and clinicians are dedicated to each individual case to ensure the patients are constantly evaluated and monitored.

  1. What is the success rate of patients who undergo this programme?

Recovery is not a straight line for anyone recovering from a gambling addiction. We tend to see a relapse, not as a sign of failure but as part of the recovery process. The truth is that many of our patients may relapse but what’s important to understand is that healing is a life-long process that needs constant effort from the patient.

  1. Can you tell us about a case of problem gambling you have recently treated?

Obviously all our cases are highly confidential and we are not allowed to disclose any details of our clients.

I can tell you however that problem gambling crosses all race, age and gender divides. A problem gambler can be a 60-year-old grandpa from a township in the Free State or a highflying housewife from Benoni. Sometimes we get calls where people are so depressed that they are contemplating ending their lives. It can get to that extreme.

We treat each and every call with the greatest care and compassion and ensure that our callers get the professional help they so desperately need.

  1. What is the most common form of gambling that problem gamblers are drawn to and why?

We see that most of our patients have developed a problem gambling on slot machines. This is because they are high-intensity machines and are also more readily available and accessible on a casino floor.

  1. What public awareness programmes does SARGF have on illegal gambling?

People who come for counselling are not only those who gamble with licensed operators, The South African Responsible Gambling Foundation (The Foundation) also sees some patients who gamble with unlicensed operator. As part of responsible gambling and public awareness campaigns The Foundation educates the public about the consequences of illegal gambling. This is achieved through participation in public events, exhibitions and displays as well as through our edutainment performance (industrial play). The Foundation works closely with the National Gambling Board and the Provincial Gambling Board in running these campaigns. 

  1. Are all gamblers problem gamblers?

In line with the findings of national and international research, the South African Responsible Gambling Foundation recognises that South Africans fall into one of the following categories:

Non-gamblers are those who don’t gamble at all on any form of gambling, including the lottery. This group was estimated to constitute about half the South African population in 2009.
Recreational gamblers are those for who gambling is a harmless recreation, and who do not spend more time or money on gambling than they can comfortably afford. They typically determine beforehand what they consider to be acceptable losses. B y and large their gambling activities cause little harm to themselves or their loved ones and their behaviour is associated with minimal guilt. They simply require information and education on gambling behaviour to enable them to make sensible decisions. This group was estimated to constitute about 47% of the SA population.
Problem gamblers demonstrate gambling behaviour that creates negative consequences for themselves, for others in their circle of friends and family, or for the community. Using the Canadian Problem Gambling Index, this group constitutes around 3% of the South African population.
Pathological or compulsive gamblers have a psychiatric disorder diagnosable by strict clinical criteria. It is regarded as a disorder of impulse control and has a very poor prognosis. Such gamblers are unable to control their gambling, leading to significant damage to themselves and others. They are often very difficult to treat. The group constitutes about 0.5% of the SA population.