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Ghana looks overseas to strengthen its gambling regulator

Minister of Interior, Ambrose Dery
Ghana’s Minister of Interior, Ambrose Dery.

The Ghanaian government is looking at strategies used by international gambling regulators to improve its own Gaming Commission.

The Minister of Interior, Ambrose Dery, announced the intentions to collaborate with international organisations on Thursday, after visiting the Gaming Commission’s office.

The Ghanaian government set up the Gaming Commission in 2006, to stamp out illegal gambling.

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The regulator also issues licenses, monitors operators, and ensures compliance with the law. However, illegal facilities continue to operate in the country, causing high rates of underage gambling.

Regulated sports betting companies in Ghana are required by law to block minors from using their services. However, several unauthorised betting shops, which are not monitored by a regulator, don’t check on who is placing a bet on a sporting event.

The Gaming Commission regularly expresses its frustration over the lack of adequate training and equipment from the government, preventing it from carrying out its duties properly.

According to research performed by the Commission, the city of Kasoa has one of the highest rates of illegal gambling and underage gaming in Ghana. As a result, the regulator set up an office in the city.

During a tour of the Commission’s office in Kasoa, Dery said integrating international practices could help crack down on illegal gambling.

While the Regional Supervisor at Kasoa Gaming Commission, Nana Kaabi Bonsu, said the regulator had managed to reduce the rate of illegal gaming activities by 65 percent, he explained that the Commission could only continue to reduce the rate provided they were given the right training, equipment and support staff.

Deputy Commissioner of the Commission, Kobby Annan, added that limited resources had meant the regulator hadn’t been able to set up a satellite office in Cape Coast to facilitate its operations.

Dery said the government is looking at strategies used by international companies to strengthen the Commission, which could, in turn, allow the regulator to work with the Ghanaian Immigration Service and the Police to stamp out illegal activity operated by foreign companies.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Finance has approved the recruitment of 2000 police to strengthen the Commission’s services in the area, and Dery pledged to give a vehicle to the Kasoa office to help aid their work.

The Minister noted that he is concerned about the prevalence of underage gambling, especially those who miss school to engage in the activity, due to the lack of regulations enforced in illegal betting shops.

Dery said that the introduction of compulsory free education two months ago should also help reduce the rates of minors who bet on sports.

At the end of the tour, the Minister praised the Commission for their work so far, with the regulator adhering to the Commission’s Act 2006. He added that the government is committed to aiding its operations, and urged the Commission to continue to create a regulated gambling environment in Ghana.

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