The Current State of Online Gambling In Zimbabwe

Gambling has been part of the fabric of life in the African continent for years now. There has been organized and legalised gambling and there also have been huge undertakings when it comes to illegal betting. Whatever be the means or form, gambling has a presence in Zimbabwe, contrary to popular belief in other parts of the world.

Gambling happens in Dollars

Zimbabwe has laws in place for gambling. This is only natural because like South Africa, it has a good concentration of casinos and betting establishments. Across the 11 cities of Zimbabwe you get 21 gambling facilities, including casinos and sports betting outfits. Gambling in this African country is regulated but the laws are quite outdated and inapplicable to the way online casino gambling works.

The Gambling Board

All general gambling activity in the country is monitored and regulated by the Lotteries and Gambling Board. This is the regulatory body for gambling in the country and acts in accordance with the laws prescribed under the Lotteries and Gambling Act of 2000.

While traditional land-based casinos have been doing really well for themselves over the years it is the online casino that have struggled a bit. One of the main reasons for this has been the really low level of Internet penetration in the country in recent time.

Online Casinos in Zimbabwe

Along with traditional gambling you now get a decent number of online casino fans from Zimbabwe. This has been triggered by the steady and sharp rise in popularity that online casino gambling has been enjoying over the past few years. The presence of the gambling industry here was natural because until recently the two major contributors to the country’s economy have been tourism and gambling.

This rise in the number of online casino players and the spreading of online casino gambling was what caused the government to stop giving out betting licenses to operators. This surge in gambling was quite surprising given that at that time more than 90% of Zimbabwe’s population was thought to be either under-employed or unemployed.

Like in quite a few other African countries, online gambling hasn’t quite caught on in Zimbabwe. This is mainly because of low Internet penetration. However, the situation will slowly get better, according to industry analysts, because of the usage of the mobile device. Smartphones are slowly catching up in popularity here and that should make it possible for players at some point in time to get down to playing at mobile casinos.

Most of the gambling in Zimbabwe has happened over the years at the traditional gambling venues. Despite the poverty, you find significant attendance at land-based sports betting shops. Other gambling avenues in this country include land-based casinos – you find quite a few of them at Harare – and at the race tracks. There is a state-run lottery that is quite popular too. Also, because of the poverty, gambling for many has become a source of income, not a hobby or a pastime.

Even though online gambling doesn’t happen in a big way and there is no licensing of local operators, there are many safe options that players can check out. There are a large number of overseas and offshore online casino operators who accept players from Zimbabwe and allow them to transact in US Dollars to play their favourite games for real money.

The Limiting Factor

Having discussed at length about the way gambling happens in Zimbabwe, we come to another important issue that has been a major roadblock in the development of the online casino and gambling industry in the country, and it has nothing to do with Internet penetration or anything like that. This issue is the lack of proper banking infrastructure.

The basic problem starts with the fact that the official currency of Zimbabwe is no longer around; it was demonetized in 2009. As a result the country doesn’t have an official currency of its own. Players need to use currencies of other countries and regions. The most often used is the South African Rand, and others include the Botswana Pula, the US Dollar, Euros, Pound Sterling, the Rupee and the Yen.

Not just that, there is a problem with the payment methods available as well. Currently, the methods that Zimbabwean players get at online casinos run by offshore operators include the standard credit cards like Visa and MasterCard and also e-wallets like NETeller, EntroPay and a few others. Bank wire is another payment method that players can use. However, not many people actually have access to these methods currently.

One way this situation will hopefully resolve itself in the future is the possible availability of micropayment methods. Micropayment methods like M-Pesa are huge in a number of other African countries. These are methods that allow for transactions involving very small sums of money. They can be made through a mobile device, like a smartphone. The fact that they are mobile-friendly and can process nominal transaction value of as less as 75 cents make them very attractive options to try out.

To sum up, online casino gambling is not very big in Zimbabwe yet. There are no casinos run by local operators, which means players would need to play at offshore casinos. There are sports books and land-based casinos locally, though. However, things will likely change soon.



Post published in: Business