Namibia’s State-Run Gambling Halls Announce Record Revenues
The African country of Namibia’s state-owned gambling halls generated $2.84 million in revenue in 2018, according to Romeo Muyunda, an official with the Ministry of Environment & Tourism. In 2017, Namibia’s state-run gambling operators generated $2.15 million, so 2018’s numbers represent a 32% increase year-to-year.
Last year, the Gaming and Entertainment Control Bill (2018) transformed the Directorate of Tourism & Gaming into an 8-member panel called the Namibian Gambling Board. The Gambling Board is both a state-run gambling monopoly and a regulator of gaming activities throughout the country.
Romeo Muyunda said on Tuesday, “The state owned gambling houses and casinos have been contributing massively to the country’s GDP for the past years. We hope to make more revenue from this institutions.”
Namibia had a gross domestic product (GDP) of $13.24 billion in 2017. Its GDP per capita for 2017 was $5,854.86 as compared to the United States’ GDP per capita of $53,128 for the same year. Namibia’s gambling revenues would be comparable to $20 million in tax revenues in the United States.
Gambling Board to Crack Down on Illegal Slots
The government is taking steps to increase the gaming revenues significantly. The key to increasing legal gambling house revenues is to shut down the estimated 20,000 illegal slot machines operating in Namibia.
To that end, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism plans to introduce draft legislation which would give law enforcement personnel more tools to crack down on the illegal slot machines. That means giving the Gambling Board more authority to lead the crackdowns on slot machines.
Namibian Central Monitoring System
The 2018 bill included several reforms. A central monitoring system for the country’s 2,845 registered electronic slot machines is designed to pool the revenue statistics in one single database, which streamlines collections and assures operators are monitored correctly.
The central monitoring system also can determine whether the legal operators provide a fair game to Namibian citizens, because the house edge on such games can be monitored. Currently, Namibia has 260 legal gaming operators, including 6 land-based casinos and 254 smaller gambling houses.
The six casinos have 1,145 slot machines, while the remaining 1,700 electronic slots are spread throughout the 254 gambling houses. While Namibian officials can more easily monitor the centrally located casinos, the central monitoring system helps to regulate the smaller gambling houses spread throughout the country.
Gaming and Entertainment Control Bill
To further protect Namibian gamblers, the Gaming and Entertainment Control Bill introduced consumer protections and rudimentary responsible gambling measures. Romeo Muyunda emphasized that the best way to protect Namibian gamblers is to eliminate the illegal operators’ gaming machines. When the legal-to-illegal slot machine number is no longer 2845-to-20,000, then Namibia’s bettors will be safer.
Namibia is a southwestern Africa nation of 2.6 million people which is a member of the United Nation, the African National Congress, and the Commonwealth of Nations. The Namib Desert, which is almost totally uninhabited, comprises the vast bulk of the land in Namibia. The desert makes Namibia the driest country in Sub-Saharan Africa and also one of the least densely populated countries on Earth. The Skeleton Coast, a big part of Namidia’s desert, earns its name honestly.
92% of the land is considered hyper-arid, arid, or semi-arid land — a desert climate. Of the Namibian land with vegetation, 64% of the country is savannah, while 20% is dry woodlands and the remaining 16% has “desert vegetation”. Despite or perhaps due to the arid nature of the country, mining for diamonds, gold, silver, base metals, and uranium make up a big part of the economy. Agriculture, herding, and tourism are other important parts of the Namibian economy.
Tourism, of course, is helped by the legal casino economy. Most of the slot machines are in the capital city of Windhoek, but other enclaves in Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, Rundu, and Oshakati also have gambling houses.
Namibia is still a young country. Part of the country around Walvis Bay and the Penguin Islands were annexed by the Cape of Good Hope colony (later South Africa) in 1878. The German Empire established a protectorate over the remainder of the land in 1884. During World War I, British forces launched from South Africa occupied Namibia (1915).
The League of Nations gave the United Kingdom a mandate to administer Namibia in 1920 and it was placed under South Africa’s administration. In 1948, South Africa applied apartheid laws to the country, which was known as South West Africa at the time. Uprisings led to the United Nations receiving direct responsibility for Namibia in 1966, though South Africa retained de facto control.
The South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO), dominated by the Ovambo people (49% of the population), was established to represent Namibia’s people in 1973. Guerilla warfare required South Africa to establish a direct administration in 1985, but Namibia gained full independence in 1990. Walvis Bay and the Penguin Islands reverted to Namibia only in 1994.
Since then, the country has joined international organizations and charted a course towards growth and prosperity. Though it has one of the smallest GDPs in the world, Namibia has the population of a large American city, so it would be remarkable if its GDP were higher. Due to the arid nature of its land, Namibia has one of the most forward thinking water conservation policies of any nation on the planet.