A ban on gambling in The Gambia made in March 2015 has now been reversed. The government says a reinvigorated gambling industry could significantly boost national tax revenues, if properly regulated.
Some in the majority-Muslim country have however branded the change “unacceptable”. The move is in an effort to boost the suffering economy – taxes and jobs are seen as some of the crucial spin offs from the reversal.
“When the president talks, it is the president that is so concerned about the econmy and welfare of its people. If you ask me as an Imam, as a religious leader, gambling is not acceptable to any religion, and that is what we are advocating as Imams.” One such persons is Imam Baba Leigh, Head of Kanifing Central Mosque, who told the BBC that his position as a religious leader was different to that of a political leader as President Adama Barrow.
He, however, admits that the country may be dominated by Muslims but also that it is not ruled by Shariah – Islamic law. His views echo in most parts of the country according to local media reports. Horse fanatics in the capital, Banjul continue to place their bets whiles in the evenings, casinos open for the more affluent people in the society.
Musa Sanyang, Operations Manager of Lotto Gaming Gambia said the sector will continue to grow after the reversal of the law. ‘‘They had a lot of unemployment because of the ban, our investors here engaged about 350 (people). We have the football betting coming on, hopefully we will employ some more.