Zimbabwe, officially known as the Republic of Zimbabwe, is a Southeast African landlocked country, with a population of about 15 million people. Unfortunately, due to economic hardships, gambling has become more popular in the country, with many people resorting to the activity as a matter of earning additional income.
As Zimbabwe boasts one of the highest literacy rates in Africa, the country is a destination that can really benefit from the further development of the gambling industry. Unfortunately, the limited access to the internet is a setback for online gambling which offers a more convenient way to enjoy casino and betting entertainment.
Gambling is a regulated industry in Zimbabwe, with the country allowing any person over the age of 18 to participate in gambling activities. Land-based casinos and betting shops are to be found across the country, with locals showing huge interest in placing bets on various sports. The authority that is responsible for the regulation of gambling in Zimbabwe is the Lotteries and Gambling Board. Issuing licenses to operators who wish to run gambling facilities also falls under the remit of the same authority.
When it comes to online gambling, things are not so specific. As the law that regulates gambling in Zimbabwe is quite outdated, there is no specific mention of online gambling. This is why this type of activity is somewhat of a gray area as it is neither deemed illegal nor it can be certainly viewed as legal. Nevertheless, the lack of any specific restrictions allows Zimbabweans to participate in online gambling without worrying about any legal consequences.
Due to the restrictions implemented during the global pandemic, many of the land-based gambling facilities in Zimbabwe were forced to close. This made online gambling even more popular in the country, with players mainly resorting to offshore websites.
Gambling Regulation in Zimbabwe
Gambling has been present in Zimbabwe for a very long time, with horse and dog racing betting being extremely popular in the country. While gambling and sports betting were frowned upon back in the day, as the country started developing and was exposed to various technological novelties, gambling started becoming popular among Zimbabweans and was well-received by the newer generations.
In 1998, Zimbabwe passed the Lotteries and Gaming Act which came into effect in 2000. This is the piece of legislation that regulates the gambling industry in the African country. Under the same piece of legislation, the regulating body that oversees gambling activities in Zimbabwe is the Lotteries and Gambling Board.
Zimbabwe Gaming Regulatory Body and License Fees
With the enactment of the Lotteries and Gaming Act the authority that is overseeing the implementation of gambling regulations was also introduced. Under the said piece of legislation, the Lotteries and Gambling Board (LGB) is responsible for regulating casino, sports betting, and other legal gambling activities in Zimbabwe. Issuing gambling licenses to operators who wish to offer land-based gambling in the country also falls under the remit of the LGB.
In March 2021, the license fees in Zimbabwe were increased to the surprise of many, with gambling owners having almost no time to react to the news. The significant change in the fees applied to operators who wished to offer casino, lottery, or betting services in Zimbabwe. The change in the license fees was compliant with the terms in section 65 of the Lotteries and Gaming Act (Chapter 10:26) and sections 16 and 23 of the Betting and Totalizator Control Act (Chapter 10:02).
Following the new rules, the current application fee for an LGB license is $250 000. A review of a totalizator license, as well as processing or applying for a renewal of the license, will cost operators a fee of up to $50,000. Casinos and betting shops will also be required to pay the same fee for a license review, processing, or renewal.
Many considered the increase in licensing fees as a way to impose stricter regulations on the gambling scene in Zimbabwe, which is constantly growing and developing. The Zimbabwean government is considering other changes to the current gambling regulations to further implement tighter control over this industry.
Gambling Taxes in Zimbabwe
While gambling operators must pay a license fee to be able to run casinos, lotteries, and betting shops, players are required to pay a tax on their winnings. Currently, Zimbabweans are required to pay a 10% tax on their winnings earned through gambling. Some casinos will also impose an additional 15% tax whenever a player hits a jackpot prize offered at the respective gambling facility.
As players who win bigger sums are subject to higher taxes, it is unlikely that the Zimbabwean government will ban jackpot games any time soon. With tourists who visit casinos in the country making significantly higher bets than locals, the African country can generate quite the revenue through gambling taxes. That is one of the reasons why Zimbabwe is making an effort to regulate this industry and enable different legal gambling activities that can help boost the country’s economy.
Possible Changes of the Gambling Regulations in Zimbabwe
Online gambling has started becoming more popular in Zimbabwe, with most players resorting to their smartphones to access virtual casinos. Since the current Lotteries and Gaming Act is outdated and does not properly cover online gambling, the law needs to be amended and provide a clearer view of the way this industry should be regulated in Zimbabwe.
At the beginning of 2022, Kazembe Kazembe, Home Affairs Minister of Zimbabwe, made a statement about a possible amendment of the law that governs the lottery and gaming industry in the country. The review of the law is supposed to amend the current legislation to fit the modern technology trends in online gambling. According to Kazembe, the review of the Lotteries and Gaming Act is long overdue and the revision must be done as soon as possible. The task to review the outdated act falls under the remit of the local regulatory body, the LGB.
One of the reasons for the Home Affairs Minister to give the LGB the task of reviewing the current gambling law is the extremely high rate of unauthorized online gambling activities in Zimbabwe. Kazembe ensured that the country will regulate online gambling if there are any measures taken to prevent money laundering through lotteries and gambling in Zimbabwe.
According to Kazembe, the proper approach to online gambling should focus on ensuring the expansion of revenue through technology innovations in the gaming industry. However, the LGB must develop a strategy that will allow regulated online gambling that will not jeopardize the country’s integrity when it comes to money laundering.
Gambling is a regulated industry in Zimbabwe, with lotteries, casinos, and betting shops legally offering gambling services in the country. The industry is governed by the Lotteries and Gambling Board which was established with the enactment of the Lotteries and Gaming Act in 2000. The same regulatory body issues licenses to any operator who wishes to legally offer gambling activities to Zimbabweans.
While land-based gambling is properly regulated in the African country, when it comes to online gambling, Zimbabwe falls under the gray area category. As the Lotteries and Gaming Act does not provide any definition of online gambling and the way it is supposed to be regulated, many Zimbabweans take advantage of this legal loophole and bet on offshore online casinos.
Due to the increased activity in online gambling, Zimbabwean lawmakers are considering amendments to the current Lotteries and Gaming Act. This will allow the country to regulate virtual gambling and earn proper revenue while also ensuring a safer gaming environment for people in Zimbabwe.