Zambia losing millions through illegal gambling and betting

In the fight against Corruption, Zambia Youth Association had said that Zambia is losing millions of Kwacha through illegal gambling and betting proves that there is a deep-rooted corruption at the Lotteries Board, which is responsible for regulating the industry.

The association’s executive director, Mr. Maurice Malambo, said it was sad that the country could be losing the much-needed resources and called for an investigation into the matter. He said the revelation was a clear indication the board responsible for regulating the industry was corrupt. Mr. Malambo urged the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to ensure that they investigated the matter thoroughly.

“Revelation that the country is losing about K800 million in illegal gambling makes it a sad reading and is a clear indication that there is corruption in the regulation of this industry,” Malambo said.

It was surprising that the country could lose such vast sums of money when it had a functional regulatory board. While it is essential, stakeholders should audit the legal framework on laws regulating the industry. He said some rules that guide operations of the casino industry were outdated and had loopholes for corrupt practices.

“We feel the laws that guide the operations of casino were outdated because in other parts of the world, financial-related crimes are the most pressing issues,” – he said.

Malambo said the Zambia Revenue Authority, Zambia Tourism Board, and the Ministry of Finance should cooperate and seal loopholes to end illegal gambling betting and money laundering. However, the rise in illegal gambling and betting in Zamia has been attributed to the exponential growth of the Zambia iGaming betting and retail form of betting coupled with the outdated laws regulating the sector. Meanwhile, despite the ancient laws and the authorities’ activities, the Zambia gaming market has cut local and foreign investors’ attention from top European iGaming companies that have established their Zambia operations.

Though this could be point towards the massive youth fanbase for sports, link to the rise in youth participation in sports betting and gambling, and the growing tourism sectors have played their parts. By attracting top casino operators from the rest of the world, particularly the Chinese casino operators, dominate the land-based casino. Zambia is seen by many as the next hot-spot market to do gambling business. As mentioned, these markets attract investors. The testament to this would not have been possible thanks to the government’s digital infrastructure program embarked upon over the years, even though the government has been slow to attend to the laws regulating the gambling sector. But still, the digital space has been growing. The Global Digital yearbook shows that Zambia mobile internet users increase to 6.92 million actives translating to 39 percent of the country’s 17.87 million total population.

Other statistics from the 2018 National Survey and usage of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) by household and individuals in Zambia estimate that the proportion of individuals that own a smartphone as a share of all the people that owned a mobile phone subscribed to local network increased from 13.5 percent to 43 percent between 2015 and 2020. The testament to the technology enablement, such as an increase in internet penetration and ownership and smartphone usage, makes gambling and betting more accessible than ever before.
At the same time, the Zambia gaming board’s timely manner of issuing a new gambling license.

As made the country the go-to-market for top European brands such as Betway, BetPawa, Melbet, Bola Bet, amongst other locals, have registered their names in the youthful population’s heart. Consequently, this has created room for illegal gambling and betting coupled with money laundering in the country as it is becoming one of the hot-spot for betting and gambling activities in recent years. Simultaneously, the increasing numbers of gaming companies in Zambia call for concern, which is one of the significant reasons the youth association chairman has requested an investigation and regulates the county’s casino sector.

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