The gambling industry, which involves wagering of money or stakes on an event with an uncertain outcome, grossed K2.83 billion (about $4.6 million) as at June this year, representing 11.3 percent increase in gross earnings from last year’s K2.5 billion (about $4million)
Despite the increase, the game registered a 0.48 percent loss in its main revenue earners, casinos, from K939.5 million (about $1.53million) in 2014 to K934.9 million (about $1.52million) in 2015.
Presenting the statistics during a Press Symposium aimed at sensitising the media on legalised gambling and lotteries in Blantyre on Friday, Malawi Gaming Board (MGB) compliance manager Lawrence Chikoko said only gaming on Wide Area Progressive (WAP) machines surpassed its last year’s earnings.
“As at June 2015, revenue from WAP stood at K1.8 billion from K1.5 billion last year at the same period. However, there was a decline in revenue on offline machines from K391 million to K62 million.
“Despite the decline in revenue from casinos and offline machines, total revenue grossed K2.9 million from K2.5 million due to an increase in earnings from WAP machines,” he said.
According to Chikoko, the board collected ten percent of the gross revenue (K283.5 million) in gaming levy, and a similar amount was collected by Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) as excise tax.
Of the K283.5 million (about $462,247) in gaming levy, the MGB remitted K30 million (about $ 49,350) in dividends to government, a 100 percent increase from the K15 million remitted in 2014.
MGB and National Lotteries Board (NLB) chief executive officer Master Maliro said since 2010 the dividends have been growing at an average of 15 percent per year.
“In 2010, we remitted just K10 million. But the figures have been growing as you can see that this year we have remitted K30 million, which is double the dividends we paid last year,” he said.
Maliro projected that the board is likely to remit about K45 million to government in 2016, saying there is so much potential for the industry to grow, which will also result in more dividends paid for development.
At the moment, Malawi has only two casinos, Colony Club Casino and Pirates Casino where gambling takes place, besides WAP and offline machines.
But Maliro said the board is currently reviewing six applications for casinos, and only two applicants will be issued with licences to take the number of casinos to four by end of 2016.
Despite the rosy picture in earnings, gaming continues to lose millions of kwacha through illegal gambling operations. For instance, on March 31 2015, MGB burnt 66 illegal gambling machines in Lilongwe which were seized from various pubs during a joint raid with the police.
On his part, chairperson for the two boards, Billy Banda, bemoaned the prevailing misconceptions about gambling in the country, urging the media to help the board in civic-educating the people about legalised gambling and lotteries.
“This type of gambling is not like the unregulated one done in homes. We get money from people who are already rich, which then goes to government as dividends and some of it is used in our Social Corporate Responsibility projects like construction of maternity wings,” he said.
MGB is currently constructing a Maternity Wing at Chisitu in Mulanje worth K45 million and it will be ready by February 2016.