The Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism on Tuesday declared betting in the country as illegal, further warning against illegal lottery activities taking place in the country.
Minister Pohamba Shifeta said it is a concern to continue observing non-adherence to the provisions of the legislation put in place by operators in the gambling and lottery industry.
He further emphasised that the Ministry is advising the industry, operators, promoters or individuals conducting such business activities that benefit the legal definition of the lotteries as per the Act to apply, notify and register their business, schemes, and programmes, and projects with the board, before undertaking such business activities, its promotion or marketing of sale.
Any person who participates in any benefit from a lottery, conducts and manages any scheme that indirectly provides for betting, wagering, or gambling, unless such lottery, promotional competition, or sports pool is or has been authorised by or under the Lotteries Act, 2017 (Act No. 13 of 2017) and Gaming and Entertainment Control Act, 2018 (Act No. 13 of 2018) or any other law, is committing an offence.
“Anyone caught practising the above-mentioned activity is liable to a fine not exceeding N$4 million or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 20 years, or to both such fine and such imprisonment,” Shifeta said.
The Ministry said it continues to observe illegal or unregistered lotteries activities being conducted or announced in Namibia without prior authorisation or approval of such lotteries activities by the Board
“I must also warn any person or media houses that are participating, promoting, and or facilitating such illegal activities within their publications/platforms without first confirming with the Lottery Board that such activities are legal, that they too are liable to be fined,” Shifeta said.
The Ministry says individuals or organisations that are not sure if such activities they are conducting fall within the category of the definition of lotteries activities should familiarise themselves with the Lotteries Act, Act No. 13 of 2017, to verify and seek clarity from the Lotteries Board before embarking on any scheme or undertaking illegal activities that may be classified as lotteries.
Activities approved by the Board will be provided with a certificate upon receipt of the application, media or any other person should inquire about the availability of such a certificate or approval from the promoters if requested to promote a scheme or project.
More in the Gambling Act, activities undertaken by gambling houses without the authorisation of the Board shall be fined as per the Act.
MEFT and the Gaming Board, the minister says, will continue to exercise their oversight function over the industry to ensure that the gaming and entertainment industry is managed and supervised responsibly within the existing laws and regulations set out.
Gambling House licences that operated before the coming into effect of the Act are encouraged to formalise their operations by applying to the Board for approval or reclassification in terms of the new categories and the Board may consider their continued operations to avoid any vacuum.
The public is informed that the Lotteries Board is currently busy with the process to identify an operator for the State Lottery. This process will be done through a proper public procurement process and is expected to be finalised before the end of this year.
He said that Namibians and Namibian companies can participate in the operation of the State Lottery once advertised, on their own or in partnership with experienced entities in Namibia or abroad.
These two laws and respective regulations were operationalised in December 2021 after having undergone a rigorous consultation and review process.
The Gambling House Association of Namibia dragged the MEFT minister to court in December 2022, which came after Shifeta legalised illegal gambling in 2019.