Gambling Authority is taking the necessary practical steps to ensure local investors also have a cut in the multi-million Pula industry, BG Business has been told.
“For purposes of citizen empowerment, we also want locals to own shares in companies that have operations in Botswana. We emphasise this in our licensing conditions,” said the Authority’s founding Chief Executive, Thulisizwe Johnson.
He was speaking to us this Wednesday, following a press conference in which he outlined how far they are concerning awarding of fresh licences. More licences will be granted early next year. One step of ensuring that citizens also take part in the multimillion-Pula industry is to guard against fronting. Johnson said they want clear plans on shareholdings in case locals partner with international investors.
“We want to be able to know where they(citizens) received the money from to avoid issues of fronting. We also want clear dividend plans. All these are done before any licence can be issued,” stressed the former Barclays Botswana Managing Director
. Two years ago, Johnson told the press at Cresta Lodge that the industry, estimated to be worth P200million in terms of Gross Gambling Revenue (GGR), was in the hands of foreign investors.
However, all is not lost in terms of citizen participation.Some casinos such as Teemane (Jwaneng), Moonlite (Gaborone) and Thakadu are owned 100percent by locals. Locals also have shares in other casinos. The Authority, whose Act was passed by parliament in 2012, has been empowered to issue and regulate licence types such as casino, bingo, sports betting, lottery, bookmakers, among others.
Writing in the Authority’s 2015/16 annual report, Johnson stated that, the last couple of years have seen several ‘start-ups with lots of money and fast paced innovation working on various alternatives to traditional gambling’. “We expect to be further bombarded by Digital Mafia Outfits looking to exploit Botswana’s naivety on gambling,” he warned.
However, as the Authority, they are already flexing their muscles in anticipation of these. “We have always known that technology will begin to impact the way people gamble and its potential doesn’t show signs of diminishing,” he said matter of factly. The Authority will now invest in systems and processes in anticipation of these developments.
More focus will also be placed in digital regulatory reforms, processes, systems and management. On other matters, Chairperson of the Authority, Thabiso Tafila wrote in the same annual report that, the gambling industry will ‘deliver its fair share towards job creation, new foreign direct investment as well as contribute to new revenue for Government of Botswana’