Namibia: Cash-Strapped Govt Eyes Gambling Riches

The government has launched a renewed effort to establish a national lottery to generate funds for various social welfare programmes. This was confirmed by the minister of environment, forestry and tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, who says the government also wants to regulate the lottery and gambling industry, which is estimated to involve more than 20 000 illegal slot machines.

The idea of a state lottery has been on the government’s books as long ago as 1994, when it was first approved by the Cabinet. However, the lottery law was only passed by the parliament in 2017.

To implement this law – called the Lotteries Act of 2017 – Shifeta’s ministry appointed a six-member board last year, which will be responsible for the issuing of lottery licences and for establishing the State Lottery Trust Fund.

This board is headed by Micheal Mutonga as chairperson, and is deputised by Tabitha Mbome. Other members of the board are Herlinde Alcock, Charlotte Kapose, Wycliff Shillifa, and Immanuel Hanabeb.

Shifeta this week told The Namibian the law provides for the government to operate a national lottery to generate funds for the state.

“They can operate the state lottery themselves, or they can outsource the operation if there is a need. The lottery would be a new revenue stream for the government. All lotteries already in operation will be regulated and they will be given time to register,” – he said.

According to the law, proceeds from the national lottery would be channelled to various government activities, including funding educational and sport institutions. The minister said the government has also started with the strict implementation of the law regulating gambling activities in the country.

A new board, called the Gambling Control Board, was established last year to oversee the gambling industry. It is led by Ben Shikongo as chairperson, and deputised by Toska Sem.

Other members of the gambling board are Erastus Johannes, Josua Kaumbi, Sandra Owoses, Amanda Heydenreich, and Uerijeta Kauaria. Shifeta said under the gambling law, all gambling establishments and slots will be required to be registered. He said once the alot machines are registered, they will be connected to a central monitoring system which will monitor all significant events associated with gambling machines.

This system will also help the government to determine the amount of tax to be paid by operators on slot machines.


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