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Of gambling, luck and the house always winning

MOMPATI TLHANKANE
This is a sector that plays a key role in the economy and the development of the entertainment sector as a whole
Gamblers go into a Casino with the hope that they have a realistic chance to win while some people believe that the house always wins and dare not set foot on Casino grounds.

Recently, The Grand Palm Hotel Casino and Convention Resort in Gaborone invited Arts & Culture for a tour of their establishment to reveal new developments and that the gambling sector’s aim is never to bankrupt a player in one sitting.

This is a sector that plays a key role in the economy and the development of the entertainment sector as a whole.

In the recent State of the Nation Address (SONA) President Mokgweetsi Masisi revealed that the Gambling Authority (GA) has embarked on a licensing programme that will result in a National Lottery.

He said the process to appoint a National Operator is ongoing and expected to be concluded by the end of this financial year.

Most people know casinos are places that separate people from their money but The Grand Palm Hotel Casino and Convention Resort showed step by step during the tour how they are all about responsible gambling.

Grand Palm Tables manager, Shando Molefhe said as a way of encouraging responsible gambling they pay some percentage of their revenue towards programme of responsible gambling.  “Gambling is supposed to be entertainment but if you come here and lose more than what you can afford, we try to observe people like that because their frustrations always show,” he said. He said everything is monitored 24/7 and they have a surveillance system that records every action on the floors across all gaming sections.

“There are some sections where we keep the tapes for a month and some sections we hold them on our servers up to seven years. But now we are compelled to keep the records for 20 years,” Molefhe stated.  Molefhe further said they do not ban people to punish them but they do it so that the latter go through a rehabilitation process. “We need to bring in qualified people to deal with compulsive gamblers because if it is not done properly they come back and start losing money again,” he said.  He, however, stated that they do not have control over someone who is winning and does not want to stop gambling.

Molefhe also

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said they have changed the design of the tables and side beds and that brings more fun to the games and attract people because the odds are better on a double spin.

“The tables are now boxed in and you cannot see all the cabling and wiring. Rowdy customers often tried to stop the wheel and now we have covered it,” he said.

He said right now Grand Palm holds the biggest share in Botswana’s gambling market. 

He said on the table’s side one can win as much as they put in.

Molefhe also disclosed that at the slots they have the cap and they keep the jackpot at a certain amount.

He said the highest jackpot they had recently was P3 Million and it was never won.  “We took the money into promotion and gave it the customers who contributed,” he said. Molefhe also indicated that the most important thing is responsible gambling and even when the lottery is brought in like Masisi mentioned in his SONA.  “Most people are going to be involved in gambling and they would want to try their luck with the money they cannot afford to lose,” he said.  He said responsible gaming programmes should be put in place before introducing all these other gambling platforms.

For her part the Casino Marketing Manager, Malebogo Bahakgametse said before people were allowed to come with a stack of cash and gamble without any problem but they had since stopped doing that because people were cleaning their money using their casino.

She said they have to establish a person’s source of funds first. 

Bahakgametse said they have lost a lot of Asian players in the process because they form most of their clientele.  Over and above we are monitoring our people, if a family member tells us about one of their relative who has a gambling problem, we consider that by banning them, we even inform other casinos about this person as well,” she said.  She said Asians gamble more compared to Africans. Bahakgametse also revealed that their clientele age group ranges from 45-55.



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