Is it the end game for games rooms?
TOUGH TALK: Johnson

GAMBLING AUTHORITY TARGETS GAMES ROOMS

In order to prevent games rooms from becoming centres of illegal gambling for minors, the Gambling Authority is in the process of amending its Act to incorporate entertainment venues for children.

“In our interactions with stakeholders, the strong view coming out is for us to regulate and manage games rooms. Our priority is to make sure children do not gamble,” cautioned the authority’s CEO, Thuli Johnson.

He explained his organisation’s core mandate is to provide a safe and ethical but also diverse gambling industry.

Last year, two illegal gambling operations in Gaborone and Francistown were exposed and shutdown by the Gambling Authority in collaboration with the police.

In an exclusive interview with The Voice, Johnson revealed the regulatory body had caught wind of the unlawful operations after tip offs.

“There was an illegal raffle going on at the university in Gaborone. Someone tipped us off, we engaged the police and indeed we found it was a group of students behind the raffle.

“The other incident reported to us was of one individual who had imported gambling machines and was setting them up in Francistown and surrounding areas. Appropriate action was taken but unfortunately the culprit skipped the country before we got there.”

Johnson maintained that such incidents were unusual and described illegal gambling in Botswana as rare.

However, he admitted his organisation are concerned at what happens in game rooms.

“It is an area we’ll be focusing on, to ensure there isn’t any illegal gambling taking place and that under age individuals are not exposed to gambling.

“Our mandate is to stop unlawful gambling, particularly illegal commercial gambling where some individuals benefit from the public,” added the CEO, further pointing out that the regulatory authority put an end to sms competitions as they were a form of gambling.

“Firstly these competitions were being offered to children and this cannot be legal. Secondly the public needs to be openly informed that sms games are a form of gambling. When people walk into a casino they know gambling takes place. We cannot permit mobile networks to introduce gambling through deceitful means!” exclaimed Johnson.

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