Gambling and betting are at an all-time high in Zambia, a Southern African nation usually associated with tourism and mining. But the gambling industry is quickly growing in the country, with land-based casinos and bookmakers allowed to offer their services to locals in a legal and fully regulated manner. Lotteries and online gambling are also allowed although there is no current legislation dealing with web-based operators.
Before taking a detailed look into Zambian gambling legislation, however, we should introduce this interesting nation. A land-locked country, Zambia is in South-Eastern Africa and is home to the world’s famous waterfall Victoria Falls on the border with Zimbabwe. With a population of around 17 million people living in a total area of 752,618 square kilometers, it is neither the largest nor the most populous country on the continent. It is known for its rich wildlife, tourist-friendly natural sites, and strong mining industry.
With its growth in technologies and Internet penetration, the local market has attracted offshore bookmakers and gambling operators. As a result, gamblers in the country now have access to both land-based and online casinos, betting shops, and lottery products.
Legal Forms of Gambling in Zambia
Gambling is legal in Zambia, with lotteries and sports betting being the most popular forms among people. Zambians’ love for football, in particular, fuels betting on various leagues and championships but wagers are also placed on international sporting events. Wagers can be placed both online and at betting shops located in the capital city of Lusaka.
Lottery games are another form of pastime for Zambians and the national lottery is called Zambian Lotto. Players need to predict the winning numbers from 1 to 39 to win the jackpot. The lottery draws are televised every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday evening.
There are also several land-based casinos in Zambia, including a casino hotel in Livingston, a casino in Makeni, and another 10 casinos in Lusaka. There are poker rooms, slot machines, and table games available, as well as high-stakes gambling offered by some of the establishments.
Online gambling and betting are easily accessible in the country despite the lack of regulation of such operations. Many people from Zambia read soccer tips before betting on their favorite teams online and even from their phones and tablets, while casino players are offered various games of chance and poker on web-based gaming platforms.
As mentioned above, almost all types of gambling are legal in Zambia and are regulated by the government. Of course, participation in gambling activities is permitted only to individuals of legal age (18 and older). The current gambling legislation consists of three separate laws but none of them mentions online gambling.
Zambia Casino Act
This is the most important piece of legislation relating to gambling operations in the country. Passed in 1992, the Casino Act repealed the Casino and Gaming Machines (Prohibition) Acts and allowed licensed establishments to conduct gambling operations. This law regulates the licensing procedures and allows for the issuing of temporary casino licenses.
According to its provisions, only hotels can apply for a casino gambling license, which needs to be renewed every 5 years. The number of allowed gaming machines and tables is specified in each particular license. In addition, operators are required to provide proper sanitation and surveillance with cameras so that they can conduct proper monitoring and control within the gaming premises. Specially appointed casino inspectors are responsible for the regulation, inspection, and control.
Temporary casino licenses in Zambia are valid for 30 days and they can be granted only in special circumstances. They do not authorize gaming machines, however.
Along with the license fees, which are paid annually, casino operators are also required to pay a percentage of their quarterly revenue. Until recently, they were charged 20% of the gross gaming revenue but in January 2019, the Government abolished the 20% casino levy, introducing a new tax structure in order to improve the collection of taxes.
The Betting Control Act
This law was first passed in 1958 but was amended multiple times, with the latest amendment being made in 1994. The Act provisions for the establishment of a four-member Betting Control and Licensing Board and determines the rules under which the Board will issue licenses to bookmakers and betting premises.
The Zambia Betting Control Act authorizes the wagering on sporting events, as well as on horse racing events. The duration of the betting licenses is one year but they can be renewed. All applicable fees and taxes are specified in the license.
The Lotteries Act
The Lotteries Act, also passed in the 1950s initially and then amended multiple times, authorizes the establishment of a state-run lottery, the proceeds of which are public and allocated to different funds and state programs. The law also allows the organization of lotteries, incidental to certain types of entertainment, as well as private lotteries.
Online Gambling in Zambia
Online gambling is not regulated in Zambia, with current legislation being focused solely on land-based operations. An increasing number of people are accessing the Internet for entertainment purposes and although Internet use still lags behind some other African countries – at around 40% in terms of penetration, it has a great potential for growth. Online gambling, even though quite new, is also quickly gaining speed.
Only a handful of local betting operators have launched their betting sites with proper license. However, foreign gambling and betting sites, including several major bookmakers, are now catering to Zambian customers. More and more people play casino games online and bet on sporting events from their computers and mobile devices. Interestingly enough, although web-based gambling operations are not regulated, they are not explicitly forbidden by law.
Currently, both local and offshore operators can legally offer their online betting, lottery, or casino products to Zambians without the need to have a license. Even better for gamblers, the law does not prohibit gambling and betting with real money online, whether on domestic or offshore websites.