Botswana: Gambling Rakes in P79m

Public funds amounting to P79, 940,116 are lying idle in a private account at the Gambling Authority because relevant authorities at the parastatal and government enclave are failing to set up a levy Fund to remit the funds to government coffers.

According to Gambling Authority 2019/21 report, the funds were collected as licence levy payable to Levy Fund compared to P58, 126,868 in 2018/19. The collection of the levy by the Gambling Authority has raised questions from the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in the past who questioned why funds are collected through the levy when there is no fund order to remit to government.

Thulisizwe Johnson

Gambling Authority Chief Executive Officer, Thulisizwe Johnson, has indicated that they have taken a decision to keep the funds in a separate bank account to ensure that it did not get used for the authority’s operations. Johnson defended the collection of the levy saying that their interpretation of the Act through which Gambling Authority was established, was that licensees were obliged to continue paying a certain amount of their gross gambling revenues as per the provisions of the Act. It was on that basis that the Gambling Authority began to collect funds even before a Fund Levy could be put in place, he stated.

“The Authority considers License Levy collected as amounts collected on behalf of the Levy Fund and has recognised as a liability and included under current liabilities pending the establishment of the Levy Fund and finalisation of its structure, control and administration. The accounting treatment will depend on the final conclusions relating to its structure, control and administration upon its establishment,” reads the report.

On the Casino entrance fees, the Authority managed to collect P1, 584,904 in 2020 compared to P1, 597,459 in 2019. One of the major issues that affect casino industry is harmful gambling habits which led to some squandering their money even property. To address the issue, Gambling Authority introduced a responsible gambling strategy which is supported by a counselling and psychosocial treatment strategy that is coupled with an exclusion programme.

According to the report there were 36 exclusions, including 1 relapse and only 18 managed to exclude themselves. 20 people have been excluded for 4 consecutive years according to the report.The total number of people who have been excluded for four (4) consecutive years is 20.

According to Gambling Authority financial report the organisation spent P136, 588 on Covid-19 crisis management, Responsible Gaming Costs 2,025,348, Total expenditure 49,261,983 40,224,948, and Salaries and wages 20,468,438 1 9,841,367

Johnson said in their efforts to protect the funds from mismanagement as has been the case with other levies, they have in addition to keeping the money in a different bank account, had the account audited to further ensure the safety of the funds.

Source: all africa.com

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