Thursday, September 28, 2023

Trade minister to decide on issuance of gambling licenses

The Minister of Investment Trade and Industry (MITI), Vincent T. Seretse has been given the powers to designate the locations and number of gambling licences to be issued within a given period. Under the newly established Gambling Act 2012 which also necessitated the establishment of the Gambling Authority, the minister will also be responsible for approving areas in which gambling establishments may be operated. 

On Tuesday, Gambling Authority Chief Executive Thuli Johnson said that the authority has since finalised its strategy to 2020. At the same time a shareholder compact has since been signed with the sole shareholder being the government.

In his first media briefing on Tuesday, Johnson said that the authority’s confidentiality and disclosure policies as well as the financial policies are being finalised. On application for licenses, the authority says it shall receive and consider applications for licences, verify information contained in or submitted with the application, and issue, refuse, suspend, or revoke licences. 

“We will also consider and decide on applications for transfer of licenses,”

The duration of licenses according to the Act shall be for a period of 10 years unless revoked or renewed. The newly established authority says casinos with licences are exempted from applying afresh for new licences and licences will run until they expire. They are however required to comply with the new Act. 

Meanwhile in the interest of fairness, the authority says the rules pertaining to all gambling must be approved and published as part of approval. He said consumer protection requires that all players must be aware of the rules of the game and the prizes adding that these will be provided as part of the approval process.

“The onus is on the industry on application for a licence to demonstrate compliance with the law and the applications must include all the legal requirements to be met. Also sufficient time must be given for application processing,” he said.

Johnson also admitted that the weak and vulnerable gamblers must be protected at all times. He said there must be a risk management policy developed by licensees to spot and stop irresponsible and reckless gambling.

According to the Act, the minimum gambling consent age is 21 years which means all individuals under the age of 21 are barred from participating in a gambling activities in a land-based environment as well as online mediums including short messages services (SMS). 

Prior to the Gambling Act, gambling was controlled by the lotteries and betting Act and the casino control Act. The two acts were enforced by the a regulator known as the Casino Control Board housed in the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), now known as the Ministry of Investment Trade and Industry (MITI). 

The gambling authority is a body corporate established in 2012 to oversee Gambling, and regulate and control the development of gambling establishments in Botswana.



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