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Should online gambling be legalized In Zimbabwe?

by Staff Writer
06 Jun 2019 at 12:55hrs | Views
The Rising Popularity Of Online Gambling

Online gambling is fast becoming a world phenomenon, and the popularity in Zimbabwe is rapidly increasing. Due to economic factors, it is considered by many as a potential means of income and not just an enjoyable pastime. 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.

However, the subject of online gambling still remains a grey area, and with no specific laws prohibiting online betting, it remains an unregulated industry. Neither legal or illegal, players are left free to bet on international online casino sites with no fear of prosecution. Betting activities across all areas are overseen by the Lottery and Gambling Board of Zimbabwe, and amidst substantial debate, it is anticipated that it will soon update the gambling laws to enable and legalize online betting.

Benefits Of Future Legalization

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.

The remit of the Gambling Board is to 'regulate and control the development and operation of all lotteries and gaming activities,' but with specific legislation for online gambling thin on the ground, players are often left exposed. With other potential downfalls like gambling addiction, many question whether it is the right time economically to open up the online market. Proponents focus on the benefits for communities, with its ability to attract jobs and investments and to support or fund public services.

Whatever the outcome of the debate, nobody can ignore the online gambling increase of 50.8% experienced in 2017, driven mainly by social media bundles on Facebook and WhatsApp. Neither can they ignore the fact that the lack of national regulation leaves Zimbabwe players unprotected.


What Will Regulation Mean?

In other countries, the regulating bodies oversee all online casinos in much the same way. To obtain and also retain any gambling licence, casino operators must prove they are protecting players and can:

  • Identify and verify all customers, together with their funding source, to comply with anti-money laundering laws and regulations
  • Uphold multiple website technical standards, along with the game machines, to ensure quality, reliability, protection and security for players
  • Promote responsible gambling, especially relating to gambling problems and addiction and underage gambling

Under the supervision of state regulation, online casinos are ensured as safe and fair places to play, along with yielding much-needed taxes. With legalized gambling, the state also has an increased responsibility to support individuals with gambling issues and not let them slip through the net.

To help in making appropriate decisions, a great deal can be learnt from other countries and their experiences.

Local Legalization In Canada

Online gaming operations have also been a grey area in Canadian law, which was historically a fierce opponent of gambling. Today, although hosting a gambling website in Canada is illegal, the government has granted each province permission to make its own decisions on whether to legalize certain gambling activities within its borders. This development has led to provinces holding lotteries and opening government-run legitimate online casinos to generate regional funding.

There are also several indigenous reserves, which are sovereign states and can decide on their own rules. The Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake is one of the earliest jurisdictions in the world and grants online casino licenses and hosts casinos on servers located within its territory. Canadian players are also free to use international offshore casinos, and several comparison sites have sprung up as a result. Websites like BestOnlineCasinoCA help to ensure that Canadians can access secure online casinos with legitimate licenses.

Prohibited In South Africa

Gambling in South Africa has always been a controversial subject, much like Zimbabwe. Currently, online gambling is not permitted, with citizens subject to heavy restrictions relating to the 1996 National Gambling Act. This Act also allowed the National Gambling Board to regulate the overall industry and granted local powers to the 9 South African provinces to licence land-based casinos.

According to the current laws, online casino operators cannot legally operate within South Africa's borders. There is a huge range of international operators vying to attract players, like Springbok Casino which offers an exclusively South African-only focus. As the nation searches for ways to improve the economy, the strong gambling laws look likely to change soon. The government has recently raised taxes for land-based casinos, and over 5% of South Africa's gambling spend comes from online gambling, representing nearly ZAR1.5 billion annually.

Full UK Legalization

It is entirely legal for UK players to participate in any kind of online gambling, including online casinos, Bingo and Poker rooms, sportsbooks and lotteries. UK residents can even establish a regulated gambling service for either profitable or charitable purposes. The UK Gambling Commission is one of the most respected and strictest regulators worldwide, and by implementing effective regulations, the UK industry is flourishing with a growth of 146% since 2009 and over 5.5 million people participating regularly.

Since the UK government has such strict regulations in place, it has proved a reliable and invaluable source of tax revenue. Significant funds have been captured from online companies and players are also protected by the legal framework. 2019 will see remote gaming duty increased from its current 15% to 21% to contribute further towards public finances.

The Economic Way Forward

While the politics in Zimbabwe is changing, the economy is not drastically altered. It is estimated that almost 72.3% are below the poverty line, with GDP at only $2,283 per capita and vast unemployment. Making online gambling legitimate, especially as it is on the rise, can add a much-needed revenue stream for the government, which needs to decide whether it can or should create a strict regulatory framework.

As shown by the UK, strict regulation will not suppress the market and allows gambling to grow in a controlled and responsible way. It protects gamblers and also creates opportunities for citizens facing economic hardship. The many positive benefits of legalized gambling in Zimbabwe could be said to far outweigh any potential disadvantages
Source - Byo24News

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