The East African nation known as the United Republic of Tanzania faces the Indian Ocean and borders seven other countries: Burundi, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia. More than 80 percent of Tanzania’s 43 million people live in rural areas. There are two official national languages, Swahili and English, and the local currency is the Shilling.
The Republic was formed in 1964 when the huge mainland territory known as Tanganyika merged with the coastal archipelago called Zanzibar. Prior to that, the two regions were controlled by Germany and Portugal, respectively, later become protectorates of Great Britain. Tanganyikan President Julius Kambarage Nyerere governed the new nation till 1985. Tanzania’s first free elections were held in 1995 and currently Jakaya Kikwete serves the country’s fourth president, elected in 2005.
In many ways, Tanzania has been highly progressive in terms of gambling activities. Despite a short history, it was among the very first nations in Africa to license and regulate gambling by passing the Gaming Control Act in the 1990s. The law made provisions for land-based casinos, sports betting shops and lotteries, leading to a fairly developed gambling industry and infrastructure compared to those of its neighbours.
Today, no fewer than ten casinos of varying sizes can be found in Tanzania. Among the larger and better known ones are the Safari Casino in Arusha, the Kings Casino in Mwanza and several venues in the capital city, Dar es Salaam, including Le Grande Casino, Kilimanjaro Casino, the New Africa Hotel & Casino, and the Sea Cliff Casino & Sea Cliff Hotel. Each houses several table games and a number of slot machines.
Far more popular among the general public are lotteries. The Tanzania National Lottery is operated by Selcom Gaming and Openlot Systems. In 2005, it became the very first African lottery with mobile phone lotto capabilities. One of the primary products offered is called “The Big Sweep,” offering large cash prizes.
A second major lottery was conducted briefly in 2006—the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation Grand Lottery. It was created to help finance the building of a library to house documents related to former President Nyerere. Raffles were held for such prizes as bicycles, hand plows, jeeps, motorcycles, sewing machines television sets and tractors.
A limited number of betting shops operate legally in Tanzania, with bookmaking operations tied to foreign sportsbooks and customised for local punters. Poker is also beginning to gain some traction inside the country, with at least one major tournament organised to date and more likely to follow.
As far back as 1999, The Tanzanian government broke new ground by passing an amendment to the Gaming Control Act to make online gambling legal. As a result, several Tanzanian online casinos opened up and are still in operation today, most of them aimed at serving the needs of the local market.
Tanzanian citizens are also allowed to wager at web sites based outside the country. No fewer than 450 online sportsbooks welcome customers with addresses in Tanzania, including bet365, william hill, ladbrokes, BetVictor, unibet and 888 Sport, to name a few.
The only thing holding Tanzania back from becoming the leading nation for gambling activities in Africa is the will of the local populace. Despite the easily availability of betting opportunities and the legality of such, the average citizen still doesn’t take much interest in gambling. It is not yet a common part of the local culture and it could take quite a few more years before gambling can truly be counted as an “industry” within the Tanzanian economy.