We, humans, are fascinating creatures. Creativity and ingenuity have allowed us to shape the world we live in, to our liking. However, it seems that for every good decision we make, we make an equally silly one. And despite the numerous screw-ups we have made throughout our comparatively short existence, we persevere. That is because, unlike anything else on planet Earth, we can learn from our own mistakes and the mistakes of others.
This article is a call to use this ability to improve Africa’s problematic gambling market.
Gambling, in one form or another, has been a vice of the wider global population for millennia. Throughout that time, entire nations have tried to mitigate the negative effects gambling has on people. Some were more successful, others less so. If you need an example, you do not have to look far.
Africa, the diverse continent it is, does an excellent job of showcasing all the possible approaches to gambling regulation and what can go wrong with them. Let us start with an extreme – North Africa. Most North African countries’ main religion is Islam, due to the region’s close vicinity and influence of the Middle East. As such, these countries base their legal system (at least in part) on Sharia Law. And Sharia Law strictly prohibits any gambling activity under the threat of severe punishment.
This means that countries like Libya, Sudan, Guinea-Bissau and Mauritania, etc. have no legal gambling operations. But that does not mean that people in these countries do not gamble. They do, they just do it illegally. The implications of that are that these countries receive none of the gambling’s positive effects on the economy or the job market while keeping all the negative effects of an illegal gambling market. Furthermore, players are not only at risk of the gambling vice itself but severe fines and prison sentences as well.
However, only seven out of fifty-two African countries approach gambling in such a radically negative way. Meanwhile, regulation in the remaining countries can vary anywhere from very loose to extremely strict. These differences seem to stem from countries’ history. Past British and French colonies have inherited some of their former rulers’ love and know-how of gambling, so they tend to have better regulation.
But even the better-regulated African countries continue to struggle with illegal gambling operations and gambling addictions. Clearly, something must be done about the situation. To find out what that “something” is, we got in touch with Casino Guru, who were willing to share their industry insight.
“There are generally three specific issues that African gambling regulators need to tackle – licensing gambling operators, problem gambling education and problem gambling treatment. If Africa wishes to improve its gambling situation, we recommend governments take inspiration from the gambling regulation of Great Britain.”
“To fix their licensing issues, governments need to do two things. First, they need to exclusively license trustworthy gambling operators, who are capable to keep up with the law and have the players’ best interests in mind. Second, they need to actively seek out illegal gambling operators and act against them. “
“Illegal gambling operators not only undermine the governments’ effective power, but they also engage in tax evasion and other predatory tactics, which cause harm both to the country and its players. Both aforementioned countries do a tremendous job at this.”
“Next is gambling education. Though it is often underestimated, it is immensely important. If people understand the risks they take by gambling, they are less likely to engage in gambling or become problem gamblers. “
“This can be approached in a variety of ways. One option is to make it compulsory for advertisements to feature problem gambling warning messages. Another is to deploy informational campaigns in gambling hotspots, or to incorporate lessons on gambling into school study plans.”
“Again, Great Britain’s Gambling Commission is an excellent example. However, there is one other organization, much closer to home, whose efforts we ought to commend. The South African Gambling Commission has been working hard to improve its local gambling situation and has seen some excellent results to boot.”
“Last, but not least, we need to stress the importance of easily accessible problem gambling treatment. Governments may fear setting up free problem gambling helplines and treatment centers, due to the inherent costs. However, by using the tax earned from legal gambling operators, the benefits greatly outweigh the costs.”
From those recommendations alone, it is clear to see that African governments have much to do. Some may think that fixing the gambling industry is not worth the trouble. However, if its state continues to deteriorate, the negative effects will be felt throughout the entire economy. And so, we will be waiting with bated breath to see how the situation develops.