- Reviews 20-year old betting and gambling policy
- Says gambling is so stigmatised in Botswana banks won’t touch it
- Notes country loses P1m annually to online betting
As part of the Transitional National Development Plan (TNDP), the Gambling Authority is currently reviewing the national betting and gambling policy that was first developed in 2002, Peter Emolemo Kesitilwe, the CEO, has said.
Speaking at the International Association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR) conference that was hosted in Gaborone this week, Kesitilwe said the Authority intends to develop a policy that is not static. “This industry is evolving. The review of this policy is to ensure that we don’t need to re-amend regulations as and when new forms of gambling are embraced.
“The other priority is education in key issues of gambling,” he said as he gave an overview of the gambling landscape in Botswana. Kesitilwe said education is more important because only a small number of citizens participate in the gambling industry.
“We do also engage the private sector to make sure that they invest in this industry as we need Foreign Direct Investment,” he said. “But we should balance it with the fact that there are those who are experts in this industry. They bring skills, invest and create employment.”
Kesitilwe said when the Gambling Authority issued a Request for Applications (RFA) for betting in May this year, the Authority ensured that the RFA circulated for a month. This was intended to make sure that it reached as far as the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA). “For us we felt it was a plus because 90 percent of IBIA members operate in online betting,” he said. “So we felt it was going to be easier if we have more members coming from IBIA; it would help us in terms of illegal gambling or betting.”
According to Kesitilwe, the gambling industry in Botswana faces challenges such as stigma, which is so entrenched that financial institutions do not want to get involved in financing anything to do with gambling.
“The stigma is just so bad that we wanted to get financing for the property where we housed the head office of the Gambling Authority but none of the financial institutions wanted to assist,” he pointed out. “Initially they wanted a government guarantee, which we gave them. But the issue was the word ‘gambling.’ So we are also amending the Act to be called Gaming Authority.”
Eight licensed casinos
According to Kesitilwe, the annual gross revenue derived from gambling activities in Botswana amounts to P220 million, which comes from eight licensed casinos and is the only form of gambling currently licensed in Botswana.
The eight licensed casinos are said to have 303 employees. “We are not saying online betting is not allowed,” Kesitilwe noted. “What we are saying is that it is not yet licensed. We are at a stage where we are licensing it.” As a matter of fact, he said, figures show that Batswana are among the biggest users of Betway, an online betting platform. “Out of 6 million visits to Betway, 410,000 are Batswana,” he said. “In essence, Botswana is losing P1 million annually (in online betting).”