Gambling is legal in Zimbabwe and could be key to restoring economic prosperity. In particular, regulated online betting could generate jobs and taxes.

zimbabwe casino
Source: Benjamin Lambert on Unsplash

In its current post-Mugabe era, many politicians and ordinary citizens are hopeful that Zimbabwe will begin to thrive again. The country has cosmopolitan cities, Victoria Falls and other sites of pristine natural beauty and an education system that still ranks as one of the best in Africa. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t start making an economic comeback, and increasingly it seems that gambling will have a big part to play.

Changing Attitudes Towards Gambling

Zimbabwe’s government seems to have recognised how beneficial a gambling sector could be for many years now. The last major gambling legislation was passed in 2000, with the country’s Lotteries and Gambling Act.

The Act allowed almost all forms of land-based gambling, including lotteries, horse racing, sports betting and casinos. In addition, it also successfully established the Lotteries and Gambling Board to oversee Zimbabwean betting regulation and issue licenses to operators.

Interestingly, although Zimbabwe had some of the most progressive African gambling laws of its day, the majority of its citizens disapproved of the activity until recently. Betting on sports or games was considered a social vice or even a weakness, but now most people see it very differently.

They consider it a simple, enjoyable way to pass the time, and some look at it as a potential money earner in a country where job opportunities are limited. Young people, in particular, have begun to accept gambling as a normal part of everyday life.

Zimbabweans Prefer Sports Betting

Though land-based casinos are legal and do attract some locals, these establishments are more popular with tourists and are thus usually found inside high-quality hotels. The standard games that are seen in most casinos are available, including slots, Roulette, Blackjack and Baccarat. Poker is also growing in popularity, with dedicated Poker rooms and tournaments becoming increasingly common.

The best-loved gambling pastime in Zimbabwe, however, is undisputedly sports betting. Local operator Zimbet leads the charge and offers a wide range of markets in several different sports. This is a similar situation to the rest of Africa, where betting on sports seems to have developed from watching the games. These days, it appears to be equally popular.

Online Gambling in Zimbabwe

Another thing that Zimbabwe has in common with several other African countries, is the fact that its laws were made before online gambling was widespread. Consequently, the legislation doesn’t really address internet-based betting and the activity is something of a grey area.

Since there are no rules governing online gambling, the practice is legal by default and Zimbabweans are certainly eager to play and bet this way. Currently, they are limited to offshore operators since local online sportsbooks and casinos are discouraged.

Future legislation could change the status of online betting and make it more attractive for Zimbabwean operators to launch their own sites. This idea is gathering momentum, as more politicians and businessmen recognise the huge potential for tax revenue, general profits and job creation. As online access becomes easier and more reliable, a local sector looks like an increasingly possible and profitable prospect.

For players and bettors, a more regulated industry would mean their rights and privacy were properly protected. With this peace of mind, they might well indulge themselves and gamble more often, thereby generating even greater prosperity. As betting becomes a more accepted pastime in Zimbabwe, this protection is more important than ever.

With so many potential benefits, pressure on the government to update the online laws is mounting and is expected to continue to do so. Clear, comprehensive guidelines will take time to create, as has been seen in neighboring countries and other African nations, but the efforts should be well-rewarded with a successful, smoothly functioning internet-based gambling industry that could help the country recover from the ravages of Mugabe’s rule.