Zimbabwe has been facing a lot of economic problems of late and the country’s unemployment rate is spiralling out of control. However, gambling is a very popular activity in this African country, with many people considering it as a source of income and not just a great way to get entertainment. While many people consider it a secondary source of income, there are some people for whom it is the primary source! Gambling has now become legal in the country thanks to the amendments in the Lotteries and Gaming Act of 2000. The Zimbabwe Lotteries and Gambling Board is committed to developing this activity into a big industry by ensuring that the interests of all parties concerned are protected.
The main issue with the law in Zimbabwe is that it does not specifically regulate online gambling, leaving it in a grey area of the sort that exists in many countries in different parts of the world. The problem is that the act talks about electronic gaming devices without specifying that it means online gambling. Zimbabweans have taken to online gambling in a big way, and many of them visit gambling sites based in South Africa. There are many South African online gambling sites, a large number of which are operated by online bookmakers. It is fair to say that Zimbabwe isn’t alone in its fondness for online gambling; this pastime is also popular in many of its neighbouring countries.
South Africa has seen an explosion in the digital entertainment industry over the past five years. Video games and online casino gaming have become extremely widespread since people are able to afford the high tech devices on which to play them. Mobile gambling has become extremely popular here, in keeping with increasing use of mobile devices to access the internet for work, entertainment or information. People enjoy being able to gamble whenever the whim strikes them irrespective of where they are at that time. As a matter of fact, online gambling has contributed billions of Rands to the economy of South Africa.
Zimbabwe has always lagged behind South Africa when it came to the penetration of internet based and mobile gambling. The reason has been the country’s high poverty rate. Zimbabweans have always preferred to gamble at land-based betting establishments. However, the situation is changing drastically and active mobile penetration which was 92.8% at the beginning of this year has been doubling every year for the past two years as well.
The sudden increase in the popularity of online gambling in Zimbabwe isn’t without any problems. As a matter of fact, there are concerns that unhindered gambling can lead to a rise in the number of cases of gambling addiction. This is one aspect that the gambling regulator has to monitor with a great deal of care or else will lead to additional impoverishment of many individuals in an already poverty stricken country. The gambling regulator in Zimbabwe is also concerned with the issuing of licenses to operators and it periodically cracks down on illegally run businesses.