All lotteries in Namibia are illegal – Shifeta

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Windhoek – None of the countless lotteries in Namibia are operating legally.

In addition, the common practice by schools and churches to give children raffles to go and beg money on the streets is also unlawful, he said.

“Lotteries are prohibited by common law. The lotteries we have in the country are unlawful. Winna Mariba or those raffles with people winning cars on TV, all of them are unlawful. Don’t expect any protection from government if someone cheats you,” Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta said.

“You don’t sanction lotteries until things are in place. That is why we don’t charge money from them. There is no auditing, so it’s unlawful, but we will make sure the public is protected. I want the board to look into that.”

On the way forward he revealed such unlawful practices are being looked at to ensure that all of them pay tax to state coffers in future. He also revealed there would be a national lottery.

Shifeta, who inaugurated the casino and lotteries board members yesterday, said the tender calling for applications to operate the national lottery would be advertised once the  law is enacted.

Currently only part of the existing National Lotteries Act is enforced, hence the appointment of both the Casino and Gambling Houses and National Lottery boards to advise the minister on how to fill the existing loopholes by repealing both Acts.

He reminded schools and churches giving children raffles to know that they too are engaging in illegal activities.

“It is totally unaccepted. You are risking the lives of children. You are teaching kids how to beg for money. You are raising money through something that is unlawful,” he lashed out.

Regarding casinos in the country, he said there are six issued licences but only three are operational, of which the newly established Hilton Hotel is one of them to be inaugurated in two weeks’ time.

The appointment of the casino and lotteries board members is effective from June 1 for a term of 12 months.

Shifeta promised that once parliament resumes, the bill on gambling and casino houses would be on the roll.

He implored the appointed board members to come up with strategies and policies on how to protect the public from addiction to gambling.

“We don’t need to have many (casinos) given the number of our population and many other social evils casinos can cause. We also don’t want to limit the rights of individuals who want to gamble. But in the process we want to protect those who might be harmed in the process like the dependants of those addicted.”

“That is why the new bill will look deeper into a person being addicted. We will put regulations in place to protect children, wives and husbands, because addiction is a very serious problem. And you cannot say a person must not gamble, it is a vested right which can only be lifted by the court,” he explained.

Michael Mambo Mukete is the Lotteries Board chairperson, while Festus Mbandeka, MTC head of corporate legal services and company secretary, is the chairperson of the Casino Board.

by Albertina Nakale

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