TOURISM minister Pohamba Shifeta this week tabled a draft law that proposes to regulate the gambling industry, which currently has about 20 000 illegal slot machines across the country.
tabled the gaming and entertainment control bill in the National
Assembly on Wednesday, which would effectively turn the directorate of
tourism and gaming into a new state-owned enterprise to be called the
Gambling Board. The Gambling Board will have eight board members and a
The bill would also create a central monitoring system to track electronic slot machines across the country.
Shifeta said other reasons for the proposed law were to protect gamblers, and ensure that the sector paid more to the state.
“This piece of legislation will not only ensure strict regulation of gambling activities, but has new provisions to protect the public who participate in these activities, and the national economy,” he stated.
Namibia has 260 licensed slot machine operators, of which six are casinos, while 254 are gambling houses, Shifeta said.
There was a total of 2 845 registered slot machines (1 145 in casinos and 1 700 in gambling houses), which contribute N$22 million to government coffers annually, he added.
According to the minister, government estimates that there are roughly 20 000 unlicensed gambling machines in about 2 600 illegal gambling houses countrywide.
Shifeta said politicians would not qualify to serve on the Gambling Board that will issue different licences for casinos, gambling houses, bookmakers, totalisators, manufacturers or suppliers, testing agents, and key employee licences.
Government was also trying to ensure that the issuing of gambling licences was fair and transparent.
The proposed central electronic monitoring system would “detect and monitor significant events associated with gambling machines or any device associated with gambling machines that are made available for play in Namibia”.
The bill would also establish a database of every gambling machine manufactured in or imported into Namibia.
He said all gambling machines would have to be linked to the monitoring system within 12 months of the Gaming and Entertainment Control Act becoming law.
“Hefty fines or imprisonment are proposed for those who fail to do so,” Shifeta said.
The minister added that the Gambling Board would only issue gambling licences to operators of accommodation establishments or those possessing retail liquor businesses.
“The transfer of gambling house licences from one area to another will no longer be possible,” he said, adding that “the practice of individuals who buy gambling machines from others and place them in various shebeens that do not belong to them will no longer be possible”.
The proposed law will furthermore allow the minister to set the total number of gambling licences per region, in consultation with the Namibian Competition Commission, to stimulate a competitive gambling industry.
“This will be done, considering the impact of incidents and other consequences of compulsive and addictive gambling,” the minister said.
Other factors to be considered were the economic empowerment of previously disadvantaged Namibians, and promoting new businesses in the gambling industry.
According to the document tabled by Shifeta, prizes won through gambling would not be taxed. Since the gambling sector is known for enabling money laundering, the bill contains anti-money laundering provisions.
“The board must consider whether the applicant has or put measures in place to combat money laundering, as required by the Financial Intelligence Act,” the bill states.
It states that a gambling licence holder who commits an offence could be fined N$10 000 or two years in prison, or both.
A similar fine would also be levied on a person who failed to pay a winner without good reason. A person would be fined N$20 000 or four years in prison for masquerading as a gambling inspector.
– shinovene @namibian.com.na