Monday, May 16, 2022

Gambling Authority, Johnson part ways

Botswana’s Gambling Authority will part ways with its founding Chief Executive Officer Thuli Johnson, who has been at the helm for nearly a decade after the board opted against renewing his contract.

This past week Board Chairperson Blessed Monyatsi announced in a statement that “Mr. Thulisizwe Johnson, will retire from his position, and move on to other endeavors, following the completion of his third contract, at the end of this month. Mr. Johnson was recruited as the Authority’s founding CEO in 2014, following the enactment of the Gambling Act, 2012, to widen the scope of gambling in Botswana.”

Johnson is credited with leading the crafting of the Gambling Regulations of 2016 and other policies and processes, thereby paving way for the recruitment of staff from April 2016, when the Authority became fully operational.

Furthermore Johnson is credited with leveraging the power of the internet and associated technologies to optimise the performance of the organisation and ease of service delivery. The Authority has also provided employment opportunities to new graduates, as 40% of all recruits were graduates with no prior work experience.

Furthermore Johnson has helped the Authority gain recognition and membership of both the Gaming Africa Regulators Forum (GRAF) and the International Association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR). In 2018, IAGR appointed Mr. Johnson as one of its Trustee members. He has also acted as a Treasurer for GRAF.

Johnson also led the Authority’s licensing strategy, which saw the issuance of new casino licenses and in 2021 a total number of 9 licensed casino have been registered by the Authority. Each Casino spread across the country between Gaborone, Francistown, Lobatse, Letlhakane and Jwaneng. While a total number of ten service providers have been registered.

Botswana will soon have a National Lottery, developments due to Johnson’s leadership. The Gambling Authority Board will be making an announcement very soon and once operational, the National Lottery will bring significant benefits to the people of Botswana. As proceeds from the Lottery will be used to fund the Youth, the Arts, Sports, and other charitable endeavors.

The Gambling Authority exists as an entity under the Ministry of Investment, Trade, and Industry (MITI) now called the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

Stakeholder engagement became a key strategic initiative for Johnson’s Gambling Authority, as it sought to improve knowledge and understanding of the gambling industry amongst varied stakeholders.

Even though this was hampered by the pandemic, Gambling carried out a baseline survey on the prevalence of excessive and problem gambling in Botswana. The study was completed and shared with stakeholders.

The intention is that the study will be used by the Authority, licensees, academics, and researchers to design interventions that combat gambling addiction. Responsible Gaming received much attention with the completion of research into problem gambling in Botswana as well as a responsible gambling framework that guides the implementation of the responsible gambling programme. The responsible gambling programme entails public education, industry monitoring, and an exclusion programme for gamblers.

In his last statement Monyatsi said “In line with the Authority’s established governance system, the Board will put in place a process to ensure continuity while processing the recruitment of a new CEO.”

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