GAMING IN BOTSWANA
Current gambling regulations
Gambling is legal and regulated in Botswana. Before 2012 two laws regulated gambling in the nation: The Lotteries and Betting Act and the Casino Act. In accordance with the laws, license is required to operate gambling in Botswana. In 2012, a body was regulated to oversee all the gaming activities in Botswana. This body is called The Gambling Authority. The Gambling Authority is a body corporate that was established in terms of the Gambling Act No 7 of 2012. The Authority is charged with regulating the gambling industry in Botswana. The Gambling Act, 2012 commenced fully on 1st April, 2016 thus enabling the Gambling Authority to resume its regulatory function. Prior to April 2016, the gambling industry in Botswana was regulated under the Casino and Lotteries and Betting Acts.
Functions of the Gambling Authority
The Gambling Authority is responsible for the general supervision of gambling in Botswana and this includes:
- Regulating and controlling the development of gambling establishments in Botswana;
- >Defining areas in which gambling establishments may be established and operated with the approval of the Minister;
- Receiving, considering and deciding on applications for licenses, to verify information contained in or submitted therein and to issue, refuse, suspend or revoke licenses;
- Receiving, considering and deciding on applications for the transfer of licenses;
- Ensuring that sums of money as may be due by licensees are duly paid and accounted for; and
- Ensuring that licensees maintain gambling establishments in respect of which they are licensed, to the standards set out in the Act, thereby ensuring safe and fair gambling throughout Botswana.
The 2012 Gambling Act allows for both private lotteries and a national lottery in Botswana. However, private lotteries may only be operated on a non-profit basis. There is no word on whether any private lottery licenses have been given out yet. The establishment of a national lottery has been initiated with the aim of funding cultural and sports programs, but no national lottery is in operation yet. Sports betting is legal and regulated by the 2012 Gambling Act. The most popular sport to bet on is football. Casino is legal. There are 7 cities with gambling facilities in Botswana, which have 10 legal gambling facilities in total so far. The largest gambling city in Botswana is Gaborone with 3 gambling facilities, 25 table games, 361 gaming, slot, and video poker machines. Online gambling is not regulated in Botswana. The new, 2012 regulation of gambling still does not mention online gambling anywhere which makes it illegal. Online lottery is illegal and not regulated in Botswana. As a result of the lack of regulation, gamblers of Botswana are free to wager in any international online lottery draws.
Radio is the most popular form of communication in Botswana. The Internet penetration rate is very low as there were only 0.62 million users connected to the Internet in 2012 and this backslides the gaming industry in Botswana.
In April 2019, the Gambling Authority Chief Executive Thuli Johnson also noted that Globally, the gambling industry generates over a billion dollars in revenue but sadly in Botswana it is not a mature industry as yet and a lot needs to be done The CEO continued to share the strategic intent of the Gambling Authority, he said “We will contribute to the transformation agenda and economic development of Botswana by diversifying the gaming industry through the development and implementation of a responsive licensing regimen and promotion of responsible gaming by the year 2028.”