Monday, August 10, 2020

Botswana Gambling Authority Fully Embraces the “New Normal”

For the past few years companies have been gravitating towards a complete use of cloud services to eliminate the use of paper and thereby being more efficient and effective in servicing their clientele.

While there has been existing environmental reasons for going paperless such as reducing carbon footprint, or for financial purposes such as cutting costs, and streamlining processes, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has fast tracked the move and need for digital transformation.

The Botswana Gambling Authority has become the first local company to completely embrace this ‘new normal’ and it is the go-to organisations for local and regional organisations looking for benchmarking options. Earlier in the year, they hosted a team from Malawi, who wanted to fully embrace and integrate technology into their operations, and they continue to receive local organisations on benchmarking missions.

“We set out from the onset, and embedded it as part of our strategy and culture that we would run a high tech company that uses no paper and this meant availing our services online,” says Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Thuli Johnson adding that they “managed to achieve the paperless feat and it has brought tremendous benefits for our stakeholders, particularly evidenced during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Johnson said some of the services they have managed to roll out online so far included licensing the national lottery, transfer of two casino licenses, and issuing a new casino license. The move to digital has also fast tracked the Gambling Authority’s financial audits for the year 2019/20, much to the admiration of the financial auditing industry.

Studies have demonstrated how companies that rely less on paper boast the highest productivity levels while those still reliant on paper waste countless hours sorting through paper jams, broken printers, malfunctions, and cumbersome printer set-ups.

Studies have also shown how digitization has proven to be fiscally beneficial for especially big companies. 

In line with their digitisation drive the Gambling Authority said they have also moved away from the use of fixed lines. “Our landline number is internet based and can be answered and transferred from anywhere so long as there is internet. All our documents are filed, edited, signed and shared electronically. We do not have your conventional arch lever files in our offices. Our tenders are handled online, supplier registration done online, no fax machines, no paper.” Johnson emphasized, adding that because of these changes their employees only need a laptop or smart phone so they can work from any part of the world and deliver the same results as if they were in the office. ‘’This way, employees are able to access information and respond directly through mobile phones, email, social media, and online chats.’’ According to Johnson, this transformation that they adopted from the outset when their Organisation came into being in April 2016, came in handy during the Covid-19 pandemic, as they continued to operate and provide service with minimal destruction.

Research has shown the ability for employees to provide rapid and accurate responses creates the foundation for trust and increased brand loyalty as customers grow increasingly confident thanks to the timely services they receive. 

By harnessing advances in digital technology the Gambling Authority has been able to respond to the escalating COVID-19 pandemic by temporarily decongesting its offices whilst being able to operate at optimal capacity.

The company has since held all scheduled Board, Board committee, departmental, and staff meetings during COVID-19 lockdowns using digital platforms.

The Botswana Gambling Authority have also joined hands with the Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) by funding the development of a gaming lab, which will be developed and hosted by the BIH. It is expected that many youths will find the lab appealing and would take advantage to create and modify games and Applications for the local as well as export market.

The objective of the Project is to promote a successful electronic gaming industry which is among the fastest growing industries in the world.

The Gambling Authority is a body corporate that has been established in terms of the Gambling Act No 7 of 2012. The Authority is charged with regulating the gambling industry in Botswana. Prior to April 2016, the gambling industry in Botswana was regulated under the Casino and Lotteries and Betting Acts which have since been repealed.

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