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New gambling regulations kick in

BRIAN BENZA
Gambling Authority admistrators at stakeholders conference held at Phakalane. PIC: KAGISO ONKATSWITSE
Regulations governing the operations of the gambling industry kick in on the 1st of April effecting new and tighter control measures for a sector that can generate huge economic spinoffs, but can also be fertile ground for crime and other social ills.

The regulations, which enable the commencement of Gambling Act of 2012 and were approved by the Minister of Trade and Industry this month, will be enforced by the country’s newest parastatal, the Gambling Authority.

 Giving an overview of the new regulations at a stakeholder consultative meeting held in Gaborone this week, Gambling Authority CEO, Thuli Johnson said the new regulations will cover all land-based and virtual betting in Botswana ranging from casinos, bookmakers, bingos, lotteries and racing.

“All kinds of betting will now need to be licensed. We will be flighting adverts soon for Request for Proposals for interested companies to apply for licences. We will take over regulation of the existing casinos in April while anyone wishing to be involved in any other kind of betting, including sms and online will need to be registered and licensed with the Authority first,” he said.

 The Gambling Authority is taking over the role played by the Casino Control Board, which predominantly regulated operations of casinos.

Under the new regulations, not only will a gambling operation require to be licensed first but also betting premises, gambling machines as well as key personnel.

 In a bid to monitor possible money laundering and other crimes, the Gambling Authority will also start

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to electronically monitor all betting operations transactions with casino operators required to instal surveillance equipment.

 “All the new requirements are meant to curb illegal gambling and protect the licensed operators who do not only pay tax but also have jobs to protect,” said Johnson. While regulations governing the operations of casinos are extensive, Johnson admitted that more work still needs to come with a water tight regulatory framework for virtual betting which includes online and sms-based competitions and sports betting which are not established in Botswana.

 Ten licensed brick-and-mortar casinos have been established in Botswana with most of them located within hotels. The online gambling industry was not regulated by the Casino Board but people could still gamble at various online casinos, international online sportsbooks, bingo and poker sites that accept players from Botswana.

Under the new regulations, casinos will pay P250, 000 for registration while betting houses will need P50, 000 while bingos and national lotteries will pay P10, 000 and P1 million respectively.

The Gambling Act of 2012 provides for the establishment of a fund into which all levies imposed under the Act will be paid. The law also provides for the establishment of the excessive gambling prevention and rehabilitation committee.



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