New technologies are being deployed to monitor all sport betting shops in the country following dishonesty by some of these shops in remitting all they owe to the Government.
From the 240 operators, the Government only received $320 million last year, with a general feeling that this is on the seriously low side considering the scale of the business.
The Government through the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding with N-Soft, a global technology company, which will see the company set up a pilot deployment of technologies to monitor gaming. The success of the pilot project will lead to the roll-out of the programme to all sport betting shops in the country.
In his remarks at the signing ceremony in Harare, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister, Kazembe Kazembe, said he is optimistic that after the deployment of the technology the revenue from the lotteries and gaming industry will increase.
“I am indeed confident that the deployment of appropriate and effective technologies by N-Soft will bolster the revenue streams for the Lotteries and Gaming Board.
“This will undoubtedly ensure that the board effectively delivers on its obligations as espoused in section 53 of the Lotteries and Gaming Act.”
Minister Kazembe added that looking at the interest by local and foreign companies to venture into the industry versus the money the companies claim to be getting meant that something was not adding up.
“If you look at the number of the outlets that we have and the number of the applications, surely the industry must be paying enough. We even have foreign companies that want licenses. Surely there is something that we are missing hence we are deploying technologies.”Minister Kazembe also spoke about online gaming.
“A lot of countries have embraced online gambling but we have to put systems in place first because there is a thin line between legal online gambling and money laundering.
“This is why we have taken our time to ensure that we put systems in place to ensure that we will be able to monitor activities in the gaming industry.
“I would like the public to know that we are almost there. We are coming up with regulations that online betting will soon become legal in the country.”
However, Minister Kazembe warned people who are building gaming shops without following actual procedure.
“We now have people who just wake up and start building casinos without following proper procedures. I want to warn people that they should not cry if they don’t get the license simply because they have invested so much.
“You need to follow procedures. We have seen a lot of buildings coming up, people are bringing equipment from all over wanting to operate a casino and then they think the Lotteries and Gaming Board is the last destination. No it is the beginning,” said the Minister.
At the signing ceremony, N-Soft vice president Prakash Sabunani said he is very confident of the system to help plug loopholes.
“That’s why we are here for good governance and to help the Minister, enhance whatever he can to make it totally transparent and efficient.”
“We are going to do this job to make sure that we serve the community, government, population and for the betterment of the future, digitalisation and the community. It’s very important to give back to the community,” said Mr Sabunani.
Acting chairperson of the Lotteries and Gaming Board Dr Eugenia Chidhakwa said for a long time they have been grappling with generating respectable revenue from their operators whom they have every reason are doing better than they are declaring. With this solution, as they learnt they will be in a position to monitor their operators in real time.
She added that this has been a missing link if as an entity they should demand their space, as indeed is the situation within other jurisdictions where the gaming industry is doing a lot in improving the lives of the citizens through wide ranging projects and programmes.