GAMING IN ZAMBIA

  • Capital City: Lusaka
  • Area: 752.618km2
  • Population: 17.090.000 as per 2017 census
  • Largest cities: Lusaka

Gambling in Zambia is legal and is regulated by three different legislative documents. Since 2007, The Tourism and Hospitality Act oversees the functioning of casinos and defines circumstances under which casino licenses may be issued.

The legalized forms of gambling include; sports betting, casino gambling and lottery games. With no mention of online gambling in Zambia’s gambling legislation, players are free to play at offshore online gambling sites. For those who prefer gambling at land-based casino establishments, they currently have casinos to choose from. The largest gambling city in Zambia is Lusaka with 10 gambling facilities, 77 tables games, 516 gaming, slot, and video poker machines. The largest casino in Lusaka, Zambia according to gaming machines and table games put together, is Casino Marina Lusaka. It has 154 gaming machines and 23 tables games.

As mentioned above, almost all types of gambling are legal in Zambia and are regulated by the government. Of course, participation in gambling activities is permitted only to individuals of legal age (18 and older). The current gambling legislation consists of three separate laws but none of them mentions online gambling.

Sports betting is the most popular of all forms of gambling in Zambia, just like in most of the African countries. Football is by far the biggest sensation, but there are a substantial amount of bets being placed on international cricket, tennis and boxing matches too. As in all African countries with small internet penetration, most of the betting is done in local betting shops, or over the phone. Betting is regulated by the Betting Control Act, originally enacted in 1958. The Act specifies the conditions under which bookmaker licenses can be issued, and also creates a legal framework for monitoring and controlling betting activities. Although, there is no specific word in the Act about online bookmakers, Sport4Africa, a firm that operates betting shops and sites in 11 African nations opened its Zambia branch last year, which offers online betting opportunities too, apart from its land-based shops, under the same license.

Lottery games are another form of pastime for Zambians and the national lottery is called Zambian Lotto. Players need to predict the winning numbers from 1 to 39 to win the jackpot. The lottery draws are televised every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday evening. There are also several land-based casinos in Zambia, including a casino hotel in Livingston, a casino in Makeni, and another 10 casinos in Lusaka. There are poker rooms, slot machines, and table games available, as well as high-stakes gambling offered by some of the establishments.

Online gambling is not regulated in Zambia, with current legislation being focused solely on land-based operations. An increasing number of people are accessing the Internet for entertainment purposes and although Internet use still lags behind some other African countries – at around 40% in terms of penetration, it has a great potential for growth. Online gambling, even though quite new, is also quickly gaining speed. Interestingly enough, although web-based gambling operations are not regulated, they are not explicitly forbidden by law.

Foreign gambling and betting sites, including several major bookmakers, are now catering to Zambian customers. More and more people play casino games online and bet on sporting events from their computers and mobile devices. Currently, both local and offshore operators can legally offer their online betting, lottery, or casino products to Zambians without the need to have a license. Even better for gamblers, the law does not prohibit gambling and betting with real money online, whether on domestic or offshore websites.

Like earlier mentioned, the current gambling legislation consists of three separate laws and below they are;

Zambia Casino Act

This is the most important piece of legislation relating to gambling operations in the country. Passed in 1992, the Casino Act repealed the Casino and Gaming Machines (Prohibition) Acts and allowed licensed establishments to conduct gambling operations. This law regulates the licensing procedures and allows for the issuing of temporary casino licenses. According to its provisions, only hotels can apply for a casino gambling license, which needs to be renewed every 5 years. The number of allowed gaming machines and tables is specified in each particular license. In addition, operators are required to provide proper sanitation and surveillance with cameras so that they can conduct proper monitoring and control within the gaming premises. Specially appointed casino inspectors are responsible for the regulation, inspection, and control. Temporary casino licenses in Zambia are valid for 30 days and they can be granted only in special circumstances. They do not authorize gaming machines, however. Along with the license fees, which are paid annually, casino operators are also required to pay a percentage of their quarterly revenue. Until recently, they were charged 20% of the gross gaming revenue but in January 2019, the Government abolished the 20% casino levy, introducing a new tax structure in order to improve the collection of taxes.

The Betting Control Act

This law was first passed in 1958 but was amended multiple times, with the latest amendment being made in 1994. The Act provisions for the establishment of a four-member Betting Control and Licensing Board and determines the rules under which the Board will issue licenses to bookmakers and betting premises. The Zambia Betting Control Act authorizes the wagering on sporting events, as well as on horse racing events. The duration of the betting licenses is one year but they can be renewed. All applicable fees and taxes are specified in the license.

The Lotteries Act

The Lotteries Act, also passed in the 1950s initially and then amended multiple times, authorizes the establishment of a state-run lottery, the proceeds of which are public and allocated to different funds and state programs. The law also allows the organization of lotteries, incidental to certain types of entertainment, as well as private lotteries.