Let’s regulate betting among youths
Published On August 29, 2023 » 357 Views» By Times Reporter » Opinion
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BETTING has become a widespread activity among the Zambian youths and gaining momentum at a rapid pace. The popularity of betting is undeniably being driven by the desire to make quick money, which is quite tempting for most young adults.
Sport betting is the most common especially when the global football season is on like at the moment, attracting droves of youths who are desperate to earn fast cash.
However, despite the excitement that betting brings, the thrilling feeling can easily lead to addiction which can have serious negative consequences in the lives of youths.
Research by several scholars and groups show that youths who gamble are at a higher risk of developing gambling addiction. This may lead to depression, anxiety and other mental health issues.
Therefore, the proposal by ActionAid Zambia that the Government should consider high tax rates on betting to manage the risk of addiction and discourage underage punters into the sector, needs some serious introspection.
The Government should consider increasing withholding tax on winnings from the current 15 percent and also the presumptive tax from 15 per cent for land-based betting.
The ActionAid Zambia report also observed that the gaming and betting sub-sector worldwide had significantly grown but that in Zambia it faced significant challenges like a weak and fragmented regulatory framework which might be ineffective in monitoring the tax and regulatory compliance in the sector.
Currently, there are no tight controls on betting as even underage children are involved in this business.
The fragmented nature of laws around gambling is making it difficult for effective regulation.
The gambling sector is currently regulated by six fragmented pieces of legislation and administered by different ministries such as Finance, Local Government and Tourism.
Tourism Minister Rodney Sikumba once observed that the fragmented laws made it extremely difficult to monitor and supervise the sector.
The growth of the sector has necessitated the continuance need for legislation.
The gambling industry was first guided by the Lotteries Act in the 1950s and was pronounced widely in 1992 when the Casinos Act Number 13 of 1992 of the Laws of Zambia was introduced.
Some significant amendments to these pieces of legislation have been undertaken and further policy such as the Betting Act of 1994 was introduced.
As we await action from policy makers on this issue, young people would do well to heed fatherly advice from President Hakainde Hichilema, who implored them to focus more on hard work and innovation instead of spending time on betting and gambling.
When he graced the award ceremony for the Hakainde Hichilema Innovation Fund earlier this year, the President said luck comes with hard work and not on the odds of betting or gambling.
The challenge for the youth is to focus on education by working hard and becoming more innovative.

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