Malawi sits in south-east Africa and shares borders with Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania. Despite the country’s varied landscape, Malawi has four main regions — the East African Rift Valley, the central plateaus, the highlands and the more isolated mountains — and the country has an estimated population of 21,196, 629. For the first 30 years of its independence, the country was under the rule of an authoritarian government, but democracy surfaced in the 1990s when the president relinquished power.
In spite of the decades of underdevelopment, the country has started to experience a considerable amount of economic growth. Casinos have contributed a lot to governmental coffers in countries such as the UK. Could the same thing happen in Malawi?
Casinos in Malawi
Malawi has a relatively liberal attitude towards gambling, thanks to the country’s Gaming Act No. 26 of 1996. The Malawi Gaming Board issues licences for gaming activities and can amend, cancel or suspend them and also to investigate any complaints about licensees. The board also oversees the country’s national lottery.
Despite the nation’s fairly liberal attitude towards gaming, there are no more than three major brick-and-mortar casinos in Malawi. To name a couple, one is a hotel and casino, the Lilongwe Casino Marina and Golden Peacock Hotel, which is based in the country’s capital city, Lilongwe. The establishment is open from midday right through until 4.00 am and offers poker, blackjack, baccarat, slots and more.
A second would be the Colony Club, which is a little further south, in the city of Blantyre. The club opens at midday till late, with live gaming tables operating from around 7.00 pm. Just like the Lilongwe Casino Marina and Golden Peacock Hotel, players can enjoy poker, slots, blackjack and other casino games.
Online casinos in Malawi
The laws are slightly less clear around online casinos. In fact, it’s something of a grey area. There are no local licences for online casinos. Anyone wishing to play online should check the casino has a licence with the Malta Gaming Authority, the Government of Curacao or other reputable licensing authorities.
That doesn’t mean willing players can’t access online casinos, however. More than 200 online casinos will accept players from Malawi. They offer their services in English, which is the country’s official language although Chewa is also commonly spoken in Malawi, and also accept the Malawi currency, the kwacha. Of course, anyone playing at the online casino of an operator based so far away from Malawi may be a little wary of whether the operator is trustworthy. They can put their minds at ease and play on the sites of reliable operators if they visit specialist review sites, which help visitors to find safe online gambling sites and, generally, to protect themselves when playing online.
Casinos and gambling in the UK
One country in which the authorities have a more relaxed approach to gambling is the UK. In fact, many people view visiting casinos and other forms of gaming as more a leisure activity rather than something upon which people should frown or from which they should stay away. Although gambling is somewhat as old as time itself, betting has been legal in the UK since the 1960s, during which casinos, bingo halls and betting shops all became legal establishments.
Just how big is gambling on this powerful little island? Stats put the number of land-based casinos at around 100 to 155 in the latter part of 2019 and, between all the different establishments and forms of gambling, the industry generated a total gross gambling yield of £14.2 billion between April 2019 and March 2020. Of course, given the turbulent times the nation’s economy is experiencing, stats like this can change and some casinos have been reviewing how they operate and whether to stay open.
Can the world of casinos every grow big in Malawi?
Anyone who has studied Malawi’s history will know the country hasn’t always been independent, especially in the 19th century and days of colonial rule, in which the government would cater more to the interests of European settlers. When it comes to gambling, will any of the European influence rub off on Malawi’s own gambling laws and culture?
Maybe so. Attitudes in Malawi have become slightly more liberal than in several other parts of Africa. There have been reports that the Gaming Board and the Malawi government are trying to clarify the legality of online gambling, especially since the original laws on gambling couldn’t foresee the impact the internet would have on gambling as an activity.
The legalisation of sports betting in the US — and more specifically, the revenue that this has generated for the States from taxation — has strengthened the argument of those who favour further relaxation of the country’s gambling laws. Although Malawi’s gambling market might not as huge as America’s the country would likely welcome extra revenue. It’s not just about tax, however. It’s about job creation, too, and receiving foreign investment from companies who wish to put money into the Malawi economy.
The lack of clear laws and regulation around online casinos has allowed some casinos to take advantage and operate online. If the Malawi government were to introduce new legislation, this would open the market up to new competitors, decrease the power of any monopolies that exist within the market and give players more freedom of choice.
Overall, if Malawi were to pave the way for more casinos, online or offline, and emulate the UK this could be a good thing. The authorities, gambling establishments and citizens have all formed a relationship that works well. Malawi’s liberal stance on gambling certainly means no one should rule out the possibility of the same thing happening here.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :