Malawi has opened a brief consultation on a raft of proposed gambling regulations, as it continues its push to expand its market and open up online licensing.
Parliament approved the Gaming and Lotteries Act 2022 last year, which saw the merging of the Malawi Gaming Board (MGB) with the National Lotteries Board (NLB) to create the Malawi Gaming and Lotteries Authority (MAGLA).
The new law also paved the way for the legalisation of online gambling, the creation of a new electronic monitoring system to bolster revenue collection and new advertising rules aimed at reducing their proliferation and limiting their visibility.
The current set of public consultations, which were published on the MAGLA website on April 11, cover the proposed regulations under the act for online gambling, lotteries, lottery funds, advertising, player protection, electronic monitoring and sports betting.
All of the consultations are open to the public with a deadline of April 21 for written submissions.
Once the consultations close, MAGLA will make recommendations to the minister responsible for tourism.
The proposed online regulations would finally put in place a modern licensing framework for operators, as well as introduce an online self-exclusion system and new requirements for internal procedures.
Online gambling licensees will have to have their primary server and financial control system located within Malawi, as well as be required to maintain a “physical administration center with at least one key person” in the country.
Proposed advertising regulations will introduce a long list of new restrictions, including requiring MAGLA to vet any advertisement before it is disseminated.
All ads must also include a warning stating gambling is “addictive and can be harmful to your life”, and radio and television ads would only be shown between 9pm and 5am.
Punishments for breaching the advertising rules would vary from a fine of K5,000,000 (€4,456) to imprisonment for 12 months.
When the gambling law was passed last year, MGALA CEO Rachel Mijiga promised it “will bring sanity to the industry”.
“MAGLA should … promote healthy competition and efficiency among operators for the benefit of players as well as the growth of the industry,” Mijiga said.
The Malawi Public Sector Reforms Management Unit (MPSRM), which was established in 2006 within the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) to coordinate all public sector reforms, expects the merging of the regulators to bring about “several benefits”.
These include “improved cash flow, increased dividend pay-outs to the government, a unified framework for monitoring of gaming and lottery activities and speedy decision making by the Institution”, the MPSRM said announcing a series of bills that had been assented by the President.