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Namibia is one of the world’s newer countries, at least as far as being a sovereign nation goes. They were part of South Africa for almost the entire 20th Century until they finally gained their independence in 1990.
On a continent with so much political instability, Namibia, after a long fight to govern themselves, is one of the most stable countries in Africa now, and has happily replaced South African rule with a democratically elected government instead of being ruled by a white minority. (1)
In spite of being fairly large in size, Namibia only has a population of a little over 2 million people, and is the second least densely populated country in the world after Mongolia. Most of the landscape here is desert, and Namibia has very little surface water, and is the driest country in Sub Saharan Africa, and they get almost all of their water from wells.
Namibia’s economy is quite well developed for an African country, and they have the 11th highest per capita PPP GDP on the continent, right behind Egypt. Their economy is diversified, with manufacturing comprising the largest segment, followed by mining, tourism, and agriculture, which only comprises 5% of their economy. (2)
Like most African countries, gambling is legal in Namibia, although it certainly is a lot more tightly regulated here than in other African countries. When you put that together with the penchant for gambling that Namibians have, this has created some real conflict.
Namibia legalized gambling shortly after it achieved its independence, and in 1994, passed the Casino and Gambling House Act. It is administered by the Namibian Department of Tourism, although the residents here engage in a lot more gambling than tourists do, and a lot more than you usually see in African countries. (3)
They initially issued 7 casinos licenses and 260 gambling hall licenses, which consist of smaller establishments such as bars and restaurants which also become licensed to offer gambling. Only 3 casinos were built though, at least thus far.
Zambia also has a national lottery, which is very popular here and is administered by the Namibian government, in addition to land based sports betting. So you would think that on top of this, 260 land based gambling hall licenses would be enough, and the Zambian government thought so a few years back, when they issued a moratorium on new licenses for 10 years back on 1996.
So the demand for gambling grew during this time, and by the time the moratorium expired, in 2006, the licensing board did start issuing licenses again, although at a very slow rate, and the underground gambling business that had built up during this time continued to grow, and this is still the case today. (4)
In spite of the efforts by police to try to control this illegal gambling trade, this not only hasn’t curtailed it, it has exploded in growth over the last few years. Recently, a government official was arrested for being caught issuing fake gambling licenses, that’s how difficult they are to get nowadays.
A new gambling bill is being drafted by the Namibian government to seek to combat what they see as a problem with the amount of gambling that is going on in their country, and in spite of it being more sensible to try to regulate this unregulated gambling more, they are looking to go the other way, and put into place tighter regulations, however the regulations are too conservative as it is, and this is likely to only expand the illegal gambling market further. (5)
Playing Poker in Namibia
Each of Namibia’s 3 casinos have poker rooms, with a total of 8 full time poker tables combined among them. 2 of these poker rooms and casinos are located in the capital and largest city of Windhoek, with the other one in the small city of Swakopmund.
While these casinos are primarily set up for tourists, Namibians are welcome to frequent them and play poker at them as well if they choose. (6)
Poker in Namibia is pretty much limited to either playing live poker at the casinos, or playing online. As much as Namibians take to gambling, poker hasn’t caught on anywhere near as much as things like the lottery or slot machines have, which are vastly more popular here.
The internet hasn’t really come to Namibia anywhere near as much as it has in countries in Africa which are also fairly well off economically, and Namibia still has quite a bit of work to do in order to improve its telecommunications infrastructure, but they do have a lot more challenges than other African countries.
Namibia has a high percentage of rural inhabitants, and when you put this together with the fact that the people here are spread out over such a large area, well this isn’t the sort of thing that lends itself to widespread internet access, and the fact that Namibia is now up to 15% internet penetration is actually on the impressive side.
So this does leave about 350,000 Namibians with access to the internet and potential online poker players, although another challenge here is the relatively slow growth of poker here compared to, for instance, neighbor South Africa which is the poker capital of Africa in all respects.
Given how much Namibians love to gamble though, and given how new the game of poker is to Africa in general, and given that other countries where poker is fairly new have really started to take to the game a lot more lately, it may just be a matter of time before poker becomes a force to be reckoned with in the Namibian gambling market.
For now though, players from Namibia are free to play all the online poker they wish, as in spite of the way the land based gambling scene is tightly regulated, there is no online gambling regulation or any law at present which would prohibit online gambling of any sort, although given how much the Namibian government likes to be in control where gambling is concerned, it’s hard to say if this will remain the case down the road.
Top Online Poker Sites for Players from Namibia
Fortunately, almost all of the world’s top online poker sites gladly accept players from Namibia, in spite of how small the market may be. Looking at our top 5 best online poker sites on the internet, 4 of them do take players from here, which we will now present to you.
We’ll start with 888 Poker, which is simply an outstanding poker site all around, and has everything that an online poker player could want, lots of traffic, great game selection including some unique and fun formats, great customer service, and lots of bonuses and rewards. You don’t even have to make your first deposit yet to get some free poker cash to play with.
Titan Poker and Bet 365 Poker are a couple more of our favorites, and both are on the iPoker Network, widely considered to be the best poker network in the world. Neither are anywhere near as big as 888 Poker is, but together, combined with the dozens of other poker rooms on this network which team up to pool their traffic, they have almost as much of it as 888 does. Both these poker rooms are top notch and either or even both are worth a try, and they will also reward you with some nice bonus money for making your first deposit with them.
Black Chip Poker is our final selection for you, and while they don’t quite have the traffic that our other 3 have, they are fast catching up, and have come a long way over the last little while, as the word about how good a poker room this actually is gets out more. They take players from pretty much anywhere, and while all of our recommended sites have fairly soft competition, an important consideration to us, this is even more the case here, and the softer, the better. They will also provide first time depositors with a nice welcome package and bonus.