Apart from being known for its landscapes and epic safari, Zimbabwe boasts many active gamblers. In fact, due to economic hardship in the country resulting in unemployment, income loss, and job instability, gambling is one of the residents’ resources. Gambling has always been practised in the country but has grown over the last few decades.
When previously Zimbabweans viewed gambling as a harmless entertaining activity, it started becoming popular among them as it was exposed to various technological advancements. The Lotteries and Gambling Board (LGB) controls and monitors the gaming industry operations in Zimbabwe, which is completely outdated and irrelevant to how online gambling works. Today, the country is moving forward with plans to legalise online gambling to boost revenue collection.
Gambling is completely legal in Zimbabwe and is under the responsibility of the Lotteries and Gambling Board (LGB), established with the enactment of the Lotteries and Gaming Act in 2000. This body regulates and supervises gambling areas such as the popular state-run lottery, land-based casinos, sports betting, and horseracing.
Online gambling has shown incredible growth in Zimbabwe, with most players using their mobile devices to access online casinos. Nevertheless, it remains an unregulated sector with no specific laws prohibiting or legalising online gambling. As the current Lotteries and Gaming Act is obsolete and does not adequately cover online gambling, the laws need to be set for revision.
In fact, the initial version of gambling regulations was introduced in 1998 and was amended in 2001 and 2002. It has not yet been updated for over 20 years. Therefore, Zimbabwe should ramp up efforts to legalise online gambling for the purpose of enabling players to bet freely on overseas online casino sites without fear of prosecution.
As Zimbabwe’s original version of gambling laws was introduced in 1998, it is no longer appropriate to the players’ needs. As stated by the Minister of Home Affairs Kazembe Kazembe, the cabinet had received and approved the amendments to the Lotteries and Gaming Act with the goal of increasing revenue from the gambling industry.
Kazembe explained that essential amendments to the Act included provisions enabling top websites for online gambling to embrace innovations adapted to LGB acts for monitoring and control purposes. The Minister of Home Affairs also stated that the government missed the opportunity on a profitable sector with the profits from which are remitted to unregulated gambling operators.
The regulator, the Lotteries and Gaming Board, would continue to supervise and guide the unregulated operators. Kazembe added that the new laws ensured that operators applied for a licence and reduced criminal activities related to gambling in the country. The President’s advisor Christopher Mutsvangwa was confident that the change would ensure revenue for the country while reducing money-laundering risks.
Apart from the tourism sector, gambling is also a considerable contributor to the economy of Zimbabwe. Actually, the country is one of the largest concentrations of land-based casinos in the African continent, with up to 22 gambling establishments spread across 11 cities.
The gambling winnings in this country are generally subject to a flat 10% tax for sports betting and horse racing and 15% for casino gambling. This means that gambling revenues represent a significant part of the GDP in this southern African country.
For example, by 2020, the online casino market is set to be worth $60 billion, meaning a huge amount of tax revenue. In 2017, online gambling experienced a growth of 50.8%, which is chiefly driven by social networking sites like Facebook and WhatsApp. The lack of proper regulation in the flourishing industry permits black market operators to accumulate vast amounts of revenue.
Web-based gambling industry is prone to different types of gambling-related crimes. Money laundering, underage gambling, and frauds are common problems related to gambling. Hence, heavy regulation is needed to fight against these issues. In Zimbabwe, the lack of relevant regulation leaves Zimbabwe gamblers unprotected.
Therefore, under the supervision of state regulation, the gambling environment is ensured to be safe, fair, and transparent. All gambling sites operating in the country should comply with any laws to promote responsible gambling and minimise gambling-related crimes.
Moreover, when legalising the online gambling industry, the state is also responsible for supporting and treating players with gambling problems. Zimbabwe should learn from other countries and experiences to help make the right decision regarding online gambling regulation. For instance, Zimbabwe can use the experience of the UK, where strict regulations allow the gambling environment to grow in a supervised and responsible way.
Gambling is a thriving industry in Zimbabwe, with several land-based casinos spreading throughout the country. The Lotteries and Gambling Board is a regulatory body that covers the regulation of land-based casinos, national lotteries, sports betting, and horseracing.
This body was set up under the Lotteries and Gaming Act in 1998 and was reformed in 2002. Nonetheless, the country hasn’t yet made internet gambling laws despite the booming of this sector. Zimbabweans, hence, turn to offshore online casinos, which can be insecure. The state plans to legalise the online gambling sphere by reforming the gambling laws there.
This new regulation will boost the country’s revenue and provide a safer gambling environment. The players will be able to choose trustworthy sites while applying responsible gambling.