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What Is Going on with the Casino Industry in Zambia?

No matter if you live in Zambia or plan on travelling there, you surely want to know more about the gambling legislation in the country if you like playing casino games in your free time. Read on for a quick guide.

Is gambling legal in Zambia?

Yes, gambling in Zambia is allowed. The practice is regulated by three different legislations. The Tourism and Hospitality Act defines the circumstances under which licenses can be issued to casinos and oversees their functioning. Then, there is the State Lotteries Act which created the legal framework for the state lottery. Finally, the Betting Control Act handles bookmaker licenses and oversees betting and bookmaking practices.

On the other hand, it should be noted that online gambling is not regulated in Zambia. This is mostly due to the fact that internet penetration in the country is extremely low – 23%, according to a Zambia Telecoms Market Report. However, there are some licenses that are issued to a few gambling operators. While playing on foreign websites is technically illegal, players are not prosecuted.

Are online casinos available?

Even though there is no legislation that addresses online casinos, there is a blanket ban on all unlicensed gambling activity and there are no online casinos licensed by the country.

On the other hand, players are not prosecuted if they choose to place wagers on websites placed outside of Zambia. There are several casinos that accept players from this country but players should keep in mind some safety tips when choosing an online casino, such as looking into their license and security, credibility, and liability.

What games can be played?

Although online casinos are not yet available in Zambia, residents have several licensed, land-based establishments to choose from if they want to play some casino games. These are mostly located in major resorts, seeing as how gambling is typically a tourist attraction in the country.

For example, the Great Wall Casino in Lusaka has a dozen table games, a couple of poker tables, and 70 slot and video poker machines, meaning that most casino games are available. Moreover, there are also six table games and 30 machines in the New Fairmont Hotel & Casino in Livingstone.

What is more, sports betting is the most popular form of this activity in Zambia. Bookkeepers that get a license from the authorities can accept bets on all sorts of sports, although football is the biggest sensation in the country. Online sports betting is also not regulated and technically illegal but there are foreign operators that Zambians can turn to.

When it comes to the lottery, there is a state monopoly in place. No licenses are issued to independent operators and there are no online lotteries as of yet. Only the results can be checked online. Interestingly, it is not prohibited to play the lottery on out-of-state sites although most countries ban the practice if they have a state lottery.

Lastly, while the state doesn’t offer bingo, residents can still look for foreign sites that offer the game.

How similar is Zambia to other African countries?

The African continent has seen significant growth in the online casino industry and Zambia is among the emerging markets, despite the fact that online gambling is not yet regulated. With so much potential in terms of internet penetration, Zambia is in a great position to develop further.

But, what is the situation like on the rest of the continent? While many nations are adherents to Islam which prohibits gambling, there are still places in Africa where gambling is legal or at least not illegal.

For instance, South Africa is the leader in terms of gambling on the continent. With more than 45 licensed casinos in 35 cities and even some forms of online gambling available (similar to Zambia, players can visit foreign websites, whereas there is a ban in place when it comes to operating an online casino), it doesn’t come as a surprise. What is more, online casinos also offer various deals and promotions like free spin no deposit bonuses that only further entice players to sign up.

Kenya is yet another place where the casino industry is booming. There are 13 establishments in the country, which makes it an attractive place for players looking for an adventure. There is also Benin that allows licensed casinos to operate on its territory and Senegal also has three major casinos in its capital.

As there are countries that heavily penalize and prosecute players for engaging in gambling, the situation in Zambia is more than beneficial both for residents and tourists.

How did the COVID-19 pandemic impact the development of the casino industry?

Finally, it’s vital to see whether the COVID-19 pandemic had any impact on the development of the casino industry. Although the outbreak and lockdowns closed brick-and-mortar establishments for a while, former president Lungu reopened them in May 2020. Then, as cases began to rise, everything was closed once again for a while before opening in October 2021.

While the whole situation still hasn’t resulted in online gambling regulations, there is talk about establishing just one regulator that will be in charge of gaming and lotteries. 

Whether any updates to the current legislation will be made remains to be seen. Until then, rest assured that gambling in Zambia is legal and ongoing.

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