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The Ins and Outs of Gambling in Tanzania

Tanzania is home to world-famous sites and destinations like Mount Kilimanjaro and the island of Zanzibar that draw in tourists and fuel the economy, but there is plenty of entertainment beyond these activities. Sports like football and boxing are popular interests across the country. And, perhaps surprising to some, there is a growing interest in gambling, which has helped inject billions in Tanzanian shillings to the country.

Tanzania offers multiple forms of legal gambling, and the market is projected to grow significantly by the end of the 2020s. To understand the ins and outs of gambling in the country, this article will explore who regulates the industry, what options are available, and which factors are fuelling the projected growth.

Who Regulates Gambling in Tanzania?

With the 2003 Gaming Act, the Gaming Board of Tanzania (GBT) was created. They have been in control of licensing and regulating all gaming within the country since then. Though in recent years, issues have arisen with licensing violations, other government entities issued unauthorised licences and permits for gaming. This led the board to reiterate and clarify that they’re the only entity authorized to do this in 2022 to rectify the issue.

Prior to the 2003 Gaming Act and the formation of the GBT, Tanzania’s gambling industry was regulated by the National Lotteries Act in 1974, and before this, the 1967 Pools and Lotteries Act.

What Forms of Gambling Are Legal?

Residents aged 18 and over can legally gamble. In Tanzania, there are many forms of legal gambling, including sports betting, casinos (land-based and online), and the lottery. In 2022, the market generated TZS 143 billion and was dominated by land-based gaming options and online sports betting.

The dominance of online sports betting is attributed to the nation’s passion for sports like football. Events like the FIFA World Cup and Tunisian Ligue Professionnelle 1 matches, garner a great deal of excitement that has, in turn, increased interest in placing wagers.

The popularity of sports betting on exciting events like this developed over more than a decade. Sports betting was legalised in 1999, but it wasn’t until the early 2010s that it gained mainstream popularity. The sudden increase in interest is largely thanks to an increase in online sportsbook options, which rendered betting more accessible to football fans.

Until 1985, the National Lottery constituted the primary source of gambling revenue. This changed in 1992 when the National Investments Promotions and Protection Act came into effect. The act allocated national funds towards the development of the hospitality industry, including gambling initiatives, which laid the groundwork for the popularity of today’s land-based gaming establishments.

What Are Projections for the Tanzanian Gambling Market?

Tanzania’s gambling industry is expected to increase by more than 10% by 2029. This prediction takes into account influential factors like the Digital Tanzania Project and changing demographics. Beyond the anticipated growth, updates to gambling regulations in Tanzania are anticipated to change the landscape.

The Digital Tanzania Project

In 2021, the World Bank contributed funds to Tanzania to support further development of affordable internet connectivity across the country. This process has included the installation of fibre-optic infrastructure across the nation. Tanzania’s goal is to deliver internet access to 80% of the population by 2025. A more connected population will increase the number of people who can access online gaming platforms, like those found through casinos.com, and is a significant consideration in the industry’s projected growth.

Changing Gambling Demographics

Tanzania’s population between the ages of 15 and 34 is rapidly growing. In 2020, it accounted for 22.9 million people and is expected to account for 27.7 million in 2030. This growing younger population represents a boon to gambling as more and more citizens will be of legal gambling age. The younger age group has also shown an increased interest in gambling, with a significant number of youth reporting a high interest in betting, according to a study available through ResearchGate.

Shifting Regulations

Although gambling is only legal for individuals over 18, the activity has become pervasive among youth who have bypassed restrictions, with sports betting a popular option among teens. Young males are far more likely to participate in this than females, following the trends of sports betting in many other countries in the world.

The growing concern of youth gambling and a general concern about problem gambling has led to changes in how the industry regulates ads. In 2021, the country proposed a set of new gambling ad regulations, many with the protection of youth in mind. The proposed regulations included ads across all media.

A key change would be the restriction of displaying gaming ads between 6 am and 9 pm on radio and TV, and ads of all types would need to include a message about responsible gaming practices. When these changes will be implemented, however, is unclear.

Conclusion

Tanzania’s gambling scene is one that is rapidly growing and capturing the attention of Tanzanians of all age groups. The nation’s appreciation for football has been an influential factor in the industry’s growth, with sports betting being a dominant gambling form.

While the formation of the Gaming Board of Tanzania has come with headaches (like confusion around who can licence operators), it has also become a central body for managing the industry and addressing growing concerns (like the popularity of gambling among youth).

The country’s gambling industry may not be perfect, but it’s presenting a great opportunity for growing the Tanzanian economy and entertaining Tanzanians nationwide.

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