Namibia Plans New Gambling Control Act

Namibia to Ease Up On Gambling

Namibia’s government has announced plans to publicly revoke its ban on the distribution of gambling licences. This would create a lot more job opportunities and economic prosperity in the country and reflects the face that Namibia, like the rest of Africa, is trying to capitalise on the gambling surge that is sweeping the continent.

Namibia’s Current Gambling Laws

The Namibian Casino and Gambling House Act has regulated the industry since 1994, and established the Casino Board to licence and supervise operators. The country responded enthusiastically, and soon there were several establishments, of different sizes, spread across Namibia.

The sheer number of casinos was difficult to manage, and the government imposed a 10-year moratorium on issuing any new licences in Act 28 of 1996. Although this was technically lifted in 2006, no new land-based casinos have been established since then.

At the moment there are only 3 legal establishments in the country – 2 in capital city Windhoek, and 1 in Swakopmund. Offshore online sites can operate without facing repercussions, and many of the best operators welcome Namibian players. As long as the casino or sportsbook is regulated by trusted authorities, bettors should be safe.

Hundreds of Unlicensed Casinos

The 3 regulated Namibian casinos are, of course, just the tip of the iceberg. Some reports say that the number of unregulated establishments now is about 260; Tourism and Environment Minister Pohamba Shifeta puts the figure at around 3000. In addition, Shifeta says that there are close to 100,000 unlicensed gaming machines in the country – and these could potentially change if international companies such as Betway gets access to the market.

Unregulated operations leave players unprotected, and mean that the government misses out on billons of tax revenue. In addition, regulators usually require casinos and bookmakers to support responsible gambling initiatives so that players can get help when experiencing problem behaviours.

As the gambling industry in Namibia and the rest of Africa continues to grow exponentially, many countries are recognising the importance of security and taxation, and are implementing more regulatory measures. By imposing more structure while also loosening monopolies, governments stimulate the sector and allow for more growth.

Proposed New Gambling Act

Namibia’s government wants to replace the existing 1994 legislation with the Gaming and Entertainment Control Act, which will be revised to be more suitable for today’s industry. All operators will be monitored via a central control system, so the range of secure playing options will increase exponentially. The expected corresponding climb in revenue will go a long way to boosting the economy.

Potential for Online Regulations

The combined gambling industry in Africa is predicted to reach annual profits of over $40 billion in the near future, and online casinos and sportsbooks are huge contributors to these earnings. That makes desktop and mobile players as susceptible to exploitation, temptation to gamble irresponsibly and mistreatment as their land-based counterparts, if not more so because there are so many more gaming establishments at their fingertips.

In addition, of course, online gambling can generate huge revenue for governments if they are regularly taxed. Currently Namibian players are protected if they play at licensed offshore sites, but the country’s economy is not benefiting. Proper online betting legislation could change that, but as has been seen in several other countries around the world, changing these laws can be a slow process. Hopefully the new Gaming and Entertainment Control Act heralds the start.

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