Namibia has launched a countrywide inspection of legal and illegal land-based gambling operators. The information will create a comprehensive database.
Namibia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism has been conducting a nationwide inspection of gambling and casino operations since the 3rd of February 2020. In a press statement issued in early February, the ministry announced that it would continue its work until it had covered the entire country.
A Comprehensive Database
The objective of the inspections is to create a database of all gambling operators who are currently active in Namibia. Romeo Muyunda, Chief Public Relations Officer of the Environment and Tourism Ministry, his office aims to identify all establishments where betting activities are taking place.
Muyunda went on to say that the ministry’s specific targets are casino and gambling houses, hospitality establishments such as hotels, bars, shebeens and cuca shops. No machines or equipment will be confiscated, but owners will need to provide the name and type of their business, their licence number, the name of the proprietor, the number of machines they own, the make and serial number of each machine, and other details.
Namibia’s Gambling Situation
Gambling in Namibia is governed and regulated by the Casinos and Gambling Houses Act of 1994. Lotteries are very popular in the country, as are its three land-based casinos and hundreds of gambling houses. These so-called gambling houses are licensed and permitted to house guests in accommodation, sell liquor and offer betting facilities.
The casinos, located in Swakopmund and Windhoek, offer slots, video Poker, table games and Poker card games. While sports betting is not as popular as casino games and lotteries among Namibians, several bookmakers run very profitably across the country. Here, bettors can put money on Horse Racing, Cricket, Rugby, Tennis, Motorsports, Football and a host of other events. The markets on each sport tend to vary according to the operator.
Like so many African countries at the moment, Namibia’s laws do not address online gambling. The legislation was written before online gambling was widespread or well-understood, which means it is something of a grey area.
By default, in the absence of online regulations, betting and playing on the internet is completely legal. While no domestic operators exist, plenty of the world’s most renowned sportsbooks and casinos are accessible to Namibian players online.
Improved Regulation Better for All
Increased online regulations and a local operator network will make it easier for the government to collect taxes, to be used for the benefit of all Namibian citizens. Job creation is another benefit, and players would also have more protection against cybercriminals, unscrupulous operators, and the possibility of developing a gambling addiction.
Since increased online regulation would be so beneficial, many industry insiders and players are pushing for updated legislation. A draft Gaming and Entertainment Control Bill, to replace the Casino and Gaming House Act, has been proposed but has not yet been passed by the House.
Muyunda stated that the ministry’s exercise would not only benefit the government, but also gambling machine and casino owners. With an accurate database and more information, the new Gaming and Entertainment Control Bill is likelier to be passed through.
Illegal operators would also be identified, making it easier to take action against them to protect the public and eliminating licensed owners’ competition. Therefore, he said, cooperation with the inspectors was strongly urged. At the same time, he issued a word of caution, as the inspection could also present an opportunity for criminal activity.
Fraudsters may try to impersonate inspectors and then confiscate gambling machines or request bribes, Muyunda explained. To avoid this, owners should be vigilant and check that appointed officials arrive in government vehicles, carrying identification cards and appointment letters.