GAMING IN ZIMBABWE
Current gambling regulations
All general gambling activity in the country is monitored and regulated by the Lotteries and Gambling Board. This is the regulatory body for gambling in the country and acts in accordance with the laws prescribed under the Lotteries and Gambling Act of 2000.
Functions of the board are the following: –
- Regulate and control development and operation of all Lotteries and Gaming Activities.
- Grant, renew, transfer and terminate licenses in terms of the Lotteries Activities.
- Ensure that licenses comply with the conditions of their licensees.
- Define areas in which casinos may be established and operate.
- Approve gaming devices
Gambling is fully legalized in Zimbabwe and bets can be placed at land casinos, horse racing tracks and sports betting shops, as well as on the popular state-run lottery.While traditional land-based casinos have been doing really well for themselves over the years it is the online casino that have struggled a bit. One of the main reasons for this has been the really low level of Internet penetration in the country in past time. Along with traditional gambling you now get a decent number of online casino fans from Zimbabwe. This has been triggered by the steady and sharp rise in popularity that online casino gambling has been enjoying over the past few years. The presence of the gambling industry here was natural because until recently the two major contributors to the country’s economy have been tourism and gambling. Both gambling and tourism are significant contributors to the economy of Zimbabwe, which provides one of the biggest concentrations of land-based casinos on the African continent. Any gambling winnings are taxable at 10% for horse racing and pool betting, and 15% for casino gambling. The online casino market is set to be worth $60 billion by 2020, and there is a huge amount of tax revenue to be gained from this increasingly buoyant market.
This rise in the number of online casino players and the spreading of online casino gambling was what caused the government to stop giving out betting licenses to operators in 2015. This surge in gambling was quite surprising given that at that time more than 90% of Zimbabwe’s population was thought to be either under-employed or unemployed.
Despite the poverty, you find significant attendance at land-based sports betting shops. Other gambling avenues in this country include land-based casinos – you find quite a few of them at Harare. There is a state-run lottery that is quite popular too. Also, because of the poverty, gambling for many has become a source of income, not a hobby or a pastime. Even though online gambling doesn’t happen in a big way and there is no licensing of local operators, there are many safe options that players can check out. There are a large number of overseas and offshore online casino operators who accept players from Zimbabwe and allow them to transact in US Dollars to play their favorite games for real money.
The challenges in the gaming industry starts with the fact that the official currency of Zimbabwe is no longer around; it was demonetized in 2009. As a result, the country doesn’t have an official currency of its own. Players need to use currencies of other countries and regions. The most often used is the South African Rand, and others include the Botswana Pula, the US Dollar, Euros, Pound Sterling, the Rupee and the Yen. Those laws are going to need to change soon, as online gambling is becoming incredibly popular. While internet penetration is still low when compared to other parts of the world, the ability to play at online casinos on your smartphone has caused people to take to the internet in droves to get a slice of the betting action. That has prompted many online casinos operating outside of the country to open their doors to the people of Zimbabwe, which has created another problem for the locals looking to wager online. With the demand for online betting action, it may not be long before Zimbabwe is seen as an emerging online betting market.