Parliament has passed the Gaming and Lotteries Bill which will see the merging of the Malawi Gaming Board (MGB) and the National Lotteries Board (NLB) to create the Malawi Gaming and Lotteries Authority (MAGLA).
The passing of the bill will see the repeal of the Lotteries Act and the Gaming Act and create a unified framework (Gaming and Lotteries Act of 2022).
Malawi Gaming and National Lotteries Boards Chief Executive Officer Rachel Mijiga hailed the National Assembly for passing the bill saying the new Authority will bring sanity in the industry.
“We are very happy with this development. We have been fighting for this bill to be passed so that MAGLA should bring sanity in the industry and also promote healthy competition and efficiency among operators for the benefit of players as well as growth of the industry,” said Mijiga.
She said the new Act, among other things, introduces Electronic Monitoring System (EMS) and also brings in responsible advertising requirements as well as an obligation to be compliant with the Financial Crimes Act where there will be confirmation of beneficial ownership as a licensing condition and risk-based approach monitoring of operations.
“The new Act will also allow for the multiple licensing option for the state-franchised National Lottery License to open up more revenue streams to raise funds towards the National Lottery Distribution Fund whose sole purpose is projects for ‘Good Causes’ and to secure continuity in case of business failure by one operator,” said Mijiga.
Mijiga also said there was benchmarking with other jurisdictions within the region with desk research done using legislation from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and a study tour to Malta was also undertaken to make the new Act relevant ‘to the times we are in’.
The CEO also said that a provision has been inserted in the Act to legislate online betting adding that regulations will be promulgated to that effect.
“We will also have an Electronic Monitoring System (EMS) for monitoring activities and we will also establish the ICT department and recruit ICT officers so that we properly regulate online betting,” said Mijiga.
She further said the Act has introduced stiffer penalties for those operators accommodating minors and that their expectation is that everyone will adhere to the law and protect the future leaders, future workforce of Malawi.
“Over the years, the magnitude of offences has increased and therefore the stiffer penalties are there to deter offenders and going forward, we will be updating legislation to align it with current world trends,” explained Mijiga.
Asked on how the new Act will address issues around addiction, Mijiga said ; “This is already being attended to, for instance, there is an MOU with St John of God where problem-gamblers are treated and the Board covers the cost of treatment and we will also enforce self-exclusion and continue with our awareness campaigns.”