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Zambia was known as Northern Rhodesia until they achieved their independence from Great Britain back in 1964. For most of its period as an independent nation, they have struggled economically, especially during the 1970’s when copper prices were depressed, given that copper mining comprises a large segment of their economy, which caused Zambia to take on massive debt that hurt their economy for decades, but in recent years they have started to turn things around.
They are now one of the fastest growing developing economies. They still have a long way to go in order to catch up with the more prosperous nations in Africa but they are now headed in the right direction. Their per capita PPP GDP is now over $4000, where they have gone from the bottom third of African countries to the top third.
There are still a lot of poor people in Zambia though, and 68% of the people here live below the poverty line, and unemployment is very high. Most Zambians are sustenance farmers, and given that the rural poverty rate is almost 80%, they aren’t subsisting very well at all by anyone’s standards.
The government here is looking to expand their economy to add other industries besides the copper industry which still dominates Zambia, and this includes developing their tourism industry more. They do get about a million visitors a year which isn’t bad at all for a country of 16 million people. (2)
Zambia’s recent economic recovery has created a growing middle class here, the kind of people that have money to spend on travel, and Zambia has 4 casinos which both locals who are well heeled enough to partake in casino gambling as well as foreign tourists can take advantage of.
These casinos, 2 in the capital and largest city of Lusaka and 2 in the tourist destination of Livingstone are very modestly sized, with only a total of 5 table games and 167 slot machines combined, so most of the action here is indeed focused on slots and is catered to a more casual gambler than the larger casinos in Africa and the rest of the world get. (3)
That’s still not bad for a poor African country though, and as time goes on, if things continue to improve in Zambia, we may see an expansion of the casino market here. There is also the potential to expand other forms of gambling, and we’ve seen that start lately, where in addition to the 4 casinos, Zambia also has a national lottery, and even has land based sports betting shops now where bets can be placed both in person and by phone.
Playing Poker in Zambia
While poker has become surprisingly popular in some African countries, this really hasn’t been the case yet, and poker is still a pretty new game to Zambia at the present time anyway. We’re seeing a wave of poker in many areas of Africa though and it may just be a matter of time before we see it really catch on in Zambia as well.
Zambia does have live poker, a single table at one of its casinos, so that’s not much but it is at least a start. Africa has really fallen in love with sports betting over the last few years, and the trend has been that sports betting starts to really grow in popularity, and then you start to see poker take off with it. Sports betting is really catching on in Zambia so poker may not be far behind. (5)
So aside from this single full time poker table in Livingstone, players have to go online to play it, although that’s something that is very convenient to do provided that you have an internet connection and the money to play. The great thing about online poker though is that you can play real money poker with a very small bankroll, as unlike live tables, the costs of running a poker table on an online server is very negligible and therefore stakes can be set extremely low.
About 15% of Zambians do have internet connectivity at this time, which cashes out to over 3 million people, so this is a significant potential market. If you can afford an internet connection, you can afford to play online poker, as it takes so little money to get started, and poker rooms will even help you out by giving you some nice bonus money, and one of our recommendations, 888 Poker, even gives you some free money to start you out even if you don’t have money to deposit yet.
There aren’t many Zambians that play online poker as of yet but if you are from Zambia and do want to play, and do have the internet and just a few bucks to put in, there’s really nothing stopping you, and most of the top poker sites warmly accept players from Zambia as well.
Top Poker Sites For Players From Zambia
888 Poker is the premier online poker site in the world in our opinion and the opinion of a great many others as well. They offer great round the clock traffic, a terrific assortment of different forms of poker, including some you won’t find anywhere else, state of the art software, and much more. If you had to choose just one online poker site to play at, 888 Poker would be the one, and like all of our top picks, they offer new players a nice bonus package along with some free tournament tickets just for trying them out.
Titan Poker and Bet 365 Poker are two more great choices for Zambian poker players, and both are on the world’s largest online poker network, a collection of many online poker rooms who have teamed up to pool their traffic and greatly enhance the playing experience of all of the players on the network. These are the two best sites on the network and two of the best online poker sites in the world, period. They are both well known for the great way they treat their players and you won’t be disappointed with either of them.
Black Chip Poker is our pick for up and coming online poker rooms, and they sure have risen up the rankings lately, and this is now a very popular spot. Players love the particularly soft competition here as well as their open mindedness about taking players from countries that most or just about all other online poker rooms no longer do business in. Black Chip Poker can be counted on to stay on your side regardless of what changes happen in the global poker market, and this is also a great place to play online poker as well.