The Malawi Gaming Board (MGB) has bemoaned continued negative public perceptions about gaming in the country, saying contrary to such perceptions Malawi has been one of the few Gaming Regulators Africa Forum (Graf) members to maintain a clean sheet since 1996.
MGB’s Gaming Inspector, Duncan Gondwa, attributed the zero-crime record in response to a questionnaire to the enactment of the Malawi Gaming Act in 1996 to regulate and control all forms of gaming in the country, and leading to the MGB’s establishment.
Gondwa said perceptions of gaming as “evil and a source of crime” could have been true prior to 1996, when gaming activities in form of slot machines and were not regulated. It took the efforts of the Department of Tourism, Parks and Wildlife to ensure standard regulations for the sector were put in place.
“Generally, the public has negative perceptions of gaming, as they consider it as evil and a source of crime, which is not correct. That is why the Gaming Board was established to regulate and sensitize the public on these issues so that it should be conducted in a free manner. No one has been prosecuted for crime-gaming in Malawi since it does not exist (in the country),” said Gondwa.
He defended the assertions that crime-gaming did not exist in the country, saying he was so sure because of the measures put in place such as effective monitoring mechanisms through periodic and surprise visits, sensitization campaigns, and strict regulation
He said gaming could be one way of providing entertainment and thus generating business opportunities, as well as promoting tourism in a number of ways and, therefore, acting as a foreign exchange earner.
On prospects for the sector, the Gaming Instructor said the market was growing as compared to the years 1996 and 2002, as there were very few gaming sites. But due to increased public awareness, opening of more gaming establishments and increased regulation, which has instilled discipline to operators, the sector was growing steadily.
The Board, however, acknowledged that gaming could be addictive. He added that such cases have so far been prevented through civic education, promotion of responsible gaming to stakeholders and enforcement of internal controls.
“Cases of gaming addiction have not been registered in Malawi (either), and that is because of the three reasons. The Board has responsibility to promote responsible gaming while marketing of the game was the responsibility of the operators,” he said.
Gondwa hoped that establishment of modern gaming establishments could make the game even more attractive to Malawian patrons. The country has less than ten gaming enterprises.