In a bid to address the evolving landscape and challenges within the casino and gaming industry, the Zambian government, in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, has developed a National Gaming and Lotteries Policy and a corresponding bill aimed at establishing a National Gaming and Lotteries Board.
Minister of Tourism, Rodney Sikumba, made this announcement during a Casino Operators Stakeholder’s meeting held at Lusaka’s Government Complex. Minister Sikumba emphasized that the proposed policy and legislation are intended to bring Zambia’s gaming and lotteries sector in line with international standards, enabling the responsible regulation of gaming activities and adapting to emerging trends.
The new measures, as outlined by Minister Sikumba, will serve to reduce the proliferation of gaming establishments and ensure effective long-term management of the industry. Key regulatory and legislative steps will include responsible gambling practices, the prevention of moral degradation, restricting business operations to designated locations, establishing clear operating hours, and setting age limits for players.
Minister Sikumba highlighted that the government is committed to implementing various reforms to enhance efficiency and reduce the cost of doing business. One notable step in this direction is the reduction in the number of licenses, streamlining the regulatory framework for gaming and lotteries.
Financial Intelligence Centre Acting Director General, Victor Zimba, shared insights into the increasing vigilance surrounding financial transactions within the gaming industry. In 2022, the Centre recorded a substantial 123% increase in Suspicious Transaction Reports, totaling 5,745 reports, compared to the previous year. Despite the increase in reports, the total value involved decreased by 8.6%. The reports primarily focused on large or unusual cash deposits and withdrawals, as well as inward and outward remittances inconsistent with customer profiles.
During the meeting, Casino operators representative, Ricky Moodley, expressed concerns about the conduct of Immigration officers, who have reportedly raided casinos, causing disruptions and emptying facilities out of fear. Moodley noted that even individuals with valid permits have been subject to these actions, often being detained in stadiums for unclear reasons. He called upon Minister Sikumba to assist the association in resolving these issues.
The government’s move to establish a National Gaming and Lotteries Board reflects a commitment to responsible regulation and oversight in the gaming sector, with a focus on ensuring the industry’s integrity and adherence to global standards. As discussions progress and reforms are implemented, stakeholders in the gaming and lotteries sector will be closely watching for developments that will shape the industry’s future.