Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Gamblers preparers to roll the wheel as Authority issues licenses

As Gamblers get ready to spin wheels across the country, the regulator of the industry has also put up tighter control measures that have already left some of the existing operators rattled. 

This week the Gambling Authority announced that it has started the process of issuing operating licenses for Casinos, the National Lottery, Sports Betting and Bingo. The Authority Chief Executive Thuli Johnson told reporters in the capital Gaborone that atleast six casino licenses (2 in Gaborone, 2 in Palapye one in Maun and 1 in Kasane) are up for grabs. 

The issuance will however only come after the application and evaluation process that will be facilitated by the Gambling Authority. Through the Gambling Act of 2012, the Gambling Authority has since taken over the role that was previously played by Casino Control Board, which predominantly regulated operations of casinos. The board was housed at the then Ministry of Trade and Industry. 

At a press briefing in Gaborone on Friday Johnson stated that already a notice of a Request for Application (RFA) has been issued for members of the public to start the application process. 

“Valid applications will be published as notices in the media to call for any written objection within the following 30 days.” As part of the evaluation process there will be a public hearing where Gambling Authority Board will hear all objections (where there are any) as well as the applicants’ cases and ultimately decide the fate of the application”, Johnson said.  

The lack of proper licensing results in illegal gambling which according to Johnson is detrimental to the industry since there is no monitoring and regulation and government loses out on revenue in the form of taxes.

Amongst other things, the new requirements are meant to curb illegal gambling and protect the licensed operators who do not only pay tax, but also have jobs to protect. Under the new regulations, casinos will pay P250,000 for registration while betting horses will need P50,000, bingos and national lotteries will pay P10,000 and P1 million.

On the upside for all, each applicant will be required to have a comprehensive corporate social investment strategy which will be approved and monitored by the Gambling Authority to ensure that the operations will give back to the communities they operate in. The National lottery however will have a Distribution fund which according to Johnson will be pumping money into sports, charities and arts and culture, the allocation will be done by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.

As an activity, gambling is considered to be an addictive hobby and has been rendered dangerous, to this assertion Johnson explained that they were in the process of developing a rehabilitation strategy to alleviate those who fall in the addiction pattern. Currently there is the Casino Association of Botswana that is handling the addiction problems. “Casinos have the responsibility to identify people exhibiting addiction behaviour,” said Johnson and they then have to be taken in for counselling.  However Johnson stated that addicts need more than counselling hence the rehabilitation facilities that they have in the pipeline.

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