Travel and Tourism

How Tsogo Sun Became SA’s Leading Gambling Brand

South African gambling culture, just like its regular culture, is rich and diverse. No matter how you spin it, people love gambling—especially if it means they might win big. And the largest facilitator of this pastime is Tsogo Sun, the largest gambling brand in the country.

From humble beginnings that quickly rocketed the group to the top of the gaming, hotel, and entertainment industries, Tsogo Sun has a long history interwoven with exploits in the hospitality and gambling industries. Through well-planned acquisitions and careful investments, the group has become a household name among South African gamblers—and everyone else. 

Southern Sun Hotels

The history of Tsogo Sun, which means ‘new life’ and mimics the Setswana term of the rising of the sun, dates back to 1969. At this time, Sol Kerzner, a well-known businessman, went into partnership with SAB (South African Breweries).

Together, the two founded Southern Sun Hotels. The group’s first significant investment was developing Sun City—an internationally acclaimed casino resort. At the time, the new casino was located in Bantustan, a special region set aside for black residents under the apartheid era.

At the time of the investment, it was one of the only regions where gambling was legal, as South Africa had strict laws prohibiting any form of gambling in almost all other areas. While the group established other hotels after this, sanctions imposed on the country due to apartheid hindered growth.

In 1994, after the abolishment of apartheid, the new democratic government began looking at legalizing gambling. Two years later, the National Gambling Act of 1996 was passed, allowing companies to register to receive licenses to operate casinos.

Tsogo Sun

Southern Sun Hotels, which by this point was known simply as Southern Sun, undertook a joint venture with numerous B-BBEEE firms to form Tsogo Sun. By 1997, the newly formed Tsogo Sun was granted a license to open and operate four physical casinos nationwide; of these, the Montecasino was the most notable.

In the years following the establishment of these casinos, the group added almost 15 new casino locations to its portfolio. These additions set the group up as one of the largest gambling bodies in the country—with its main opposition being Gold Reef Resorts. 

Two additional casinos were added to the group in 2009 after it acquired smaller operators Century Resorts Limited and Winlen Casino Group. However, these additions paled in comparison to the significant changes in 2011.

That year, Tsogo Sun took control of all Gold Reef Group casinos through a reverse purchase of the company. This added seven more casinos to the Tsogo Sun portfolio, including the famed Gold Reef City and Gold Reef City Theme Park, alongside smaller establishments like Silverstar and Mykonos.

While the group began to merge operations across all the casinos in its portfolio after this, enabling the Tsogo Sun rewards program and bringing in other minor changes, further acquisitions already in the pipeline were finalized in 2014.

Gaining a 40% stake in both SunWest International and Worcester Casinos, Tsogo Sun further established itself as the most prominent gambling brand in the country and secured a stake in all of the casinos operating in the Western Cape province. The group continued to purchase existing hotels and build new ones through all these acquisitions. 

Company Division

In 2019, the group, which had continued growing steadily, decided to split into two separate legal entities. The newly formed Tsogo Sun Gaming was responsible for all casino establishments, while Tsogo Sun Hotels, later rebranded to Southern Sun, would operate all hotels—including those located within casino resorts.

However, despite being widely acknowledged as strategically sound at the time, the move was almost disastrous for the company in 2020 when all hotels and entertainment venues were shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, due to a careful balancing act of resources, both corporations began turning a profit again after lockdown restrictions were lifted. 

Both entities, particularly the hotel division, also continued on a spree of acquisitions. The most notable of these included the purchase of the Hospitality Property Fund by Tsogo Sun Hotels in 2021. 


Aside from operating numerous casinos and hotels, Tsogo Sun is also the majority stakeholder in two other gambling entities operating within South Africa. The first, VSlots, offers smaller gambling venues with a limited number of slot machines. There are nine venues located throughout the country.

The second entity, Galaxy Bingo, operates 24 venues across six provinces that offer players access to slot games as well as bars and restaurants. 

Online Expansion

In 2020, despite facing global lockdowns, Tsogo Sun Gaming began investing in online expansion and purchased the popular online sports betting website Two years later, the group launched its own official online casino, offering features similar to those of the renowned casinos found on

While its growth in the online gambling sphere has been slow, many players have begun opening up to playing via the website. This is primarily due to the massive advertising campaign run by the group, which includes advertising online services within its physical casinos. 

The Tsogo Sun Difference

While Tsogo Sun can undoubtedly be credited with making wise strategic decisions in the acquisitions and growth it has achieved, one of the main reasons for the group’s development is an inherent understanding of local consumers. 

Due to this, each casino in the group’s portfolio focuses on more than just gambling. While the casino floors are outfitted with the latest games and award-winning gambling opportunities, each location also plays host to several entertainment options.

These include theatres where world-class live music, drama, and comedy shows are held. Conference centres also attract numerous businesses to the locations. Meanwhile, movie theatres, play zones, bars, and restaurants help make the venues attractive to the whole family—not just those looking to try their luck.

In addition, the Tsogo Rewards program is a fantastic incentive for anyone looking to gamble or enjoy entertainment options. Giving players unique perks, the rewards program offers substantial discounts on meals, accommodation, and spa treatments—something every Saffer looks for.