How Zambia Controls its Gambling Industry

Zambian Government Keeps Watch On Growing Gambling Industry

Zambia’s largest industries have traditionally been tourism and mining, but that may be about to change. The country is experiencing a huge surge in its gambling sector, with land-based casinos and bookmakers both reporting record profits. Like many other African countries, Zambia seems to be looking to benefit from sports betting revenue, while trying to manage problem gambling issues through strict legislation.

Gambling Legislation in Zambia

For anyone over the age of 18, almost all types of betting are allowed in Zambia and are regulated by the government. There are 3 distinct laws that control the industry, the Zambia Casino Act, the Lotteries Act, and the Betting Control Act.

The Betting Control Act was first passed in 1958 and has been amended several times, most recently in 1994. The Act permits legal age Zambians to place wagers on horse races and different sports events, and involves a 4-member Betting Control and Licensing Board. Collectively, the Board is responsible for licensing bookmakers and betting premises. Each licence lasts for a year and is renewed when the relevant fees and taxes are paid.

The Lotteries Act was also passed in the 1950s, and has undergone multiple amendments of its own. The rules for the operation and authorisation of the State Lottery are contained within it, and all proceeds are donated to public works. These include state programmes and funds, which benefit Zambian citizens.

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The Zambia Casino Act

The Zambia Casino Act is the country’s most important piece of gambling legislation. When it was first introduced in 1992, it modified the Casino and Gaming Machine (Prohibition) Acts that had come into being earlier.

With the 1992 Act, licensed establishments are allowed to offer gambling services. The licensing procedures are defined within the law, and temporary casino licences for businesses were permitted. These temporary authorisations last for 30 days, and are only issued under special circumstances, which the applicant must motivate for.

In terms of permanent licences, the only establishments that can apply for them are hotels. They must be renewed every 5 years, and in addition to annual fees businesses must pay taxes on their revenues. This was set at 20% of their gross revenue, but in 2019 the government introduced a new tax structure.

Each licence type specifies how many gaming machines and tables may be on the premises. Specially appointed inspectors must also make regular visits to check on operators, and service providers are expected to provide adequate surveillance to facilitate easy monitoring and control. In addition, sanitation standards must be maintained. Failure to meet any of these requirements could also result in the loss of an operating licence.

Focus On Online Gambling in Zambia

Zambia appears to be managing and controlling it’s land-based gambling industry well, thanks to clear legislation and high levels of compliance. What is very noticeable about the 3 laws, however, is that none of them mention online casinos or betting sites.

Desktop and mobile gambling is considered the way of the future around the world, and Zambian players are known to enjoy frequent betting on offshore websites. Homegrown alternatives could generate considerable taxes, but as other African countries have shown they present serious regulation challenges. The government’s thoughts and decisions on this matter remain to be seen.

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