Zimbabwe’s cash-strapped government has set plans to amend the Lotteries and Gaming Act to allow for the money spinning online betting, a world industry which comes with lucrative revenues.
The country’s current legislation is insufficient to address current trends.
In a post-cabinet news conference on Tuesday, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the government had approved a change to the Lotteries and Gaming Act to address financial leakages exacerbated by current technological trends.
“Cabinet received and approved the amendment of the Lotteries and Gaming Act which is intended to improve revenue collection from the Gaming Industry as presented by the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, Honourable Kazembe Kazembe.
“Essential amendments to the Act include provisions allowing online gaming and compelling operators to incorporate technology compatible with LGB systems for monitoring and control purposes.
“Government is losing substantial amounts of revenue through numerous leakages and legislative inadequacies that need to be plugged,” said Mutsvangwa.
The Lotteries and Gaming Board (LGB), which is solely responsible for regulating all betting activities in the country, was established as a result of the Lotteries and Gaming Act of 1998.
Previous Lotteries and Gaming Act amendments from 2001 and 2002 have proven insufficient in addressing evolving gambling trends, consistent with the global growth of online betting.
Some local betting companies are allegedly operating illegal online gambling sites in violation of the current Lotteries and Gaming Act.
Mutsvangwa said the new amendment would provide adequate mechanisms to monitor betting activities and reduce money laundering by betting companies.
“The envisaged amendment of the Act will undoubtedly promote easy supervision and monitoring of gaming activities, and mitigate money laundering as well as enhance revenue streams.
“There is a need to adapt to the ever-changing environment through deploying appropriate technologies. Government cannot ascertain the actual levies due to it if it relies on statements provided by the operators.
“The nation is being informed that the Lotteries and Gaming Board has since received presentations from companies on technologies that will enhance Government revenue collection within the Gaming Industry,” said Mutsvangwa.
Mutsvangwa said that the LGB will continue to work with the companies to ensure that appropriate technologies are adopted for use in the country.
Exiled cabinet minister Walter Mzembi was however skeptical of the government move, claiming that it would exacerbate externalisation of funds.
“The move is fraught with serious offshore leakages just like many tourism receipts, must be embraced in tandem with presumptive taxation.
“Ask yourself why Zim would be an attractive online platform for gambling and many countries don’t authorise it and you get all the answers.
“A US dollar economy like Panama, hosting oriental gamblers, Chinese and Russians authorises online gambling,” Mzembi said.