Tanzania, officially known as the United Republic of Tanzania, is a country in East Africa, with a population of over 50 million people, 80% of which reside in rural areas. As far as gambling goes, it is a regulated industry, with gambling being legal in Tanzania. While it is not the first country on the continent to legalize gambling, it is among the first ones to do so.
Gambling was launched legally in Tanzania with the enactment of the Investment Promotion and Protection Act in 1992 and the Tanzania Investment Act in 1997. This was only the beginning, as the Tanzanian government decided to ensure even better regulations and passed the Gaming Act of Tanzania in 2003.
Like other African countries, Tanzania has a very low internet penetration. Despite that, online gambling is steadily developing, with more Tanzanians using mobile devices to access the internet and play online. Just like land-based gambling, online gambling is also regulated and legal in Tanzania.
Throughout the years, as gambling has evolved, Tanzania adopted several laws that are still regulating land-based and online gambling in the country. As for the implementation of gambling regulations, the authority that governs different gambling activities in Tanzania is the Gaming Board.
Gambling Regulations in Tanzania
We can trace the legality of gambling in Tanzania back to 1992 and 1997 when the government enacted the Investment Promotion and Protection Act and the Tanzania Investment Act respectively. They were aiming to help the development of investments related to leisure and tourism, which also included the gambling sector in Tanzania.
As the African country recognized the need to further regulate the gambling industry, it ratified the Gaming Act in 2003. This piece of legislation is currently the main law that regulates the gambling industry in Tanzania, with the government introducing several amendments throughout the years to improve the gambling regulations within the country.
Under the Gaming Act, “gaming activities” are games that are played with cards, dice, or incorporate any type of equipment, mechanical, electromechanical, or electronic device, with these games being played for money, property, credit, checks, credit cards, or anything of a monetary value. Card games played in private homes or residences where no one makes a profit out of operating such games do not fall under the category “gaming activities” regulated by the Gaming Act.
The Gaming Act also introduced the Gaming Board of Tanzania (GBT) which is the body that is responsible for governing the gambling industry in Tanzania. Issuing gaming licenses also falls under the remit of the Gaming Board. Conducting any type of gambling without a license is unlawful and the punishment for individuals who offer gambling activities illegally is a fine of up to TZS500,000, imprisonment of not more than 12 months, or both. The same type of penalties may also apply to operators who run any type of gambling on unlicensed premises.
Online Gambling in Tanzania
Like many of its neighboring countries, Tanzania has a limited internet penetration. That said, in 2021, the country boasted an internet penetration rate of 50%, ranking way above other African countries. As more people in the country have access to mobile devices, playing online has become easily accessible.
Online gambling is also regulated by the Gambling Act 2003 and it is legal in Tanzania to place wagers on virtual casinos and sportsbooks. While there is not a specific section describing online gambling, Tanzanian lawmakers are considering that the broad term “gaming activities” also includes the online form of gaming and betting.
Since the same rules and regulations apply to land-based and online gambling in Tanzania, operators that wish to run online casinos or sportsbooks will need to acquire a license from the GBT. Unlike many other African countries, Tanzania has legalized online gambling a long time ago, with the first online casino launching in 2013. Later on, it was followed by many other gaming websites that cater to Tanzanian players. Since the sector is regulated, those playing online can be certain that they will be protected as licensed operators are required to comply with the regulations imposed by the Gaming Act 2003 and the GBT.
GBT Gambling Licenses
With the enactment of the Gaming Act 2003, the Gaming Board was also established as the body responsible for governing all gambling activities in Tanzania. The GBT is also the authority that issues licenses to operators that wish to conduct different gaming or betting services. The total number of different types of licenses that the GBT is able to issue is 18. A few of the gaming licenses that operators can apply for in Tanzania include a casino license for organizing and offering table games and slot machines, license for the supply, service, and sale of gaming equipment, internet casino license, internet sports betting license, and more.
Under section 26 of the Gaming Act, license applicants must meet several criteria to be able to apply for GBT gaming permission. Operators must have never had any license of theirs denied, suspended, or revoked. In addition, they should also have never withdrawn a license application in Tanzania or another country.
Only applicants, including the directors and the shareholders of the company, should have a clean criminal record if they want to apply for a license from the GBT. The other requirements include applicants providing proof of adequate funding and also owning a gaming premiss that has been approved by the GBT.
Once applicants provide the required documents, the GBT will assess whether they are suitable to receive a gaming license. Depending on the type of license, the GBT may impose some restrictions and conditions on the gaming license.
Under section 31 of the Gaming Act, license holders are required to pay gaming taxes to Tanzania Revenue Authority. Monthly gaming levy and tax rates that apply to licensed operators are determined by the Gaming Amendment Regulations GN. 401 of 2010.
Gaming Tax in Tanzania
The gaming tax that applies to licensed gaming operators in Tanzania is levied on six different types of legal gaming activities. The said tax applies to casinos, sports betting, SMS lottery, National lottery, slots (route) operations, and forty machines.
The filing of returns and the way the gaming tax is collected depend on the type of license the operator is holding. Under an amendment in the Finance Act of 2013, filing of returns for land-based and online casinos is done weekly. The rest of the gaming activities have their filing of returns done on a monthly basis.
|Gaming Activity||Weekly/Monthly Returns||Tax Rate||Tax Base|
|Land-Based Casinos||Weekly||18%||Gross Gaming Revenue|
|Online Casinos||Weekly||25%||Gross Gaming Revenue|
|Sports Betting||Monthly||25%||Gross Gaming Revenue|
|SMS Lottery||Monthly||25%||Gross Gaming Revenue|
|National Lottery||Monthly||20%||Gross Gaming Revenue|
|Virtual Games||Monthly||10%||Gross Gaming Revenue|
|Slots/Route Operations||Monthly||15%||Gross Gaming Revenue|
|Forty Machine Site||Monthly||25%||Gross Gaming Revenue|
Tanzania is often considered a pioneer when it comes to gambling legalization, with the country being one of the firsts in Africa to legalize both land-based and online gambling. The main piece of legislation that regulates all gambling activities in Tanzania is the Gaming Act which was enacted in 2003.
Similar to other African countries, Tanzania has a rather low internet penetration rate but it is still significantly higher than the rates in other countries on the continent. With the increasing internet access in Tanzania, online gambling is becoming more popular and relevant. Unlike many countries in Africa, Tanzania has legalized both land-based and online gambling.
Whether it is a land-based or online casino, sports betting facility, SMS lottery, or other gaming activity, operators are required to obtain a license from the GBT to be able to legally offer activities legalized under the Gaming Act 2003. With the current regulations, the gambling industry is expected to continue to grow in the upcoming years, especially with the increasing internet penetration in the country and the various online casinos Tanzanians can legally play at.