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Zimbabwe, a country of 13 million people in Southern Africa, was a long time British colony, known for many years as South Rhodesia. In 1965, the white minority government declared independence from Britain, creating the country of Rhodesia. Rhodesia, like their neighbor South Africa, had most of the wealth concentrated in a very small percentage of the population, and eventually the majority rose up and took on the government in a civil war.
When the dust settled, in 1980, a peace treaty was reached, which resulted in the country being renamed Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe has been led ever since by their rather infamous leader Robert Mugabe, who, now in his 90’s, still clings to power 35 years later, in spite of being defeated in a general election all the way back in 2008.
Mugabe’s government is widely criticized for not only it’s human rights violations, but how they have mismanaged the country over all these years, which has led to an downgrade of their economy. Sanctions from the U.S. certainly didn’t help, and the economic decline here continues, in spite of their significant mineral wealth. (1)
Zimbabwe’s per capita PPP GDP is down to just $2000 a year these days, unemployment is fairly high, as is the poverty rate, and tourism is way down from where it once was. Hotel rooms here are said to only average a 20% occupancy rate now. The political climate here has no doubt had a negative effect on this.
In spite of all of this, Zimbabwe has the sixth highest casino count in Africa, although casinos are fairly new to this continent and the industry has grown a lot lately but is still in its infancy. It is expected to continue to grow on the continent in general though, and Africa has about a billion people, and although most of them are poor, this is still a very significant sized gambling market overall and is still fairly underserved.
Zimbabwe has a total of 8 casinos now, located in 4 different cities, with most of them being located in the Harare region, the capital and largest city in Zimbabwe, formerly known as Salisbury back when the country was called Rhodesia. There are a total of 38 table games and 407 slot machines in total here, a very modest amount but not bad for an African country. (2)
One would think that the gambling here would be mostly confined to tourists, especially in a poor African country such as Zimbabwe, but this is far from the case. Sure, the casinos are mostly frequented by tourists, but Zimbabwe’s gambling industry is far larger than that, and is far reaching.
Betting on horse racing is very popular here, as is sports betting. Gambling is legal in Zimbabwe generally, not just at casinos and a few other places like in some countries, and gambling in Zimbabwe is very popular now. (3)
The big increase in gambling in Zimbabwe is a fairly recent phenomenon though, and has been particularly fueled by the fairly new sports betting operation that opened up here, Zimbet, and this and other expansions of the gambling market has brought gambling to the people a lot more. They also have a national lottery here which is also popular among the people here.
Gambling in Zimbabwe had long been considered a socially unacceptable activity, but this is really changing, and young people in particular are really taking to gambling. Gambling is likely to continue to grow at a rapid pace here as more and more Zimbabweans become turned on to it. (4)
Playing Poker in Zimbabwe
Poker is still in its infancy in Zimbabwe, and isn’t all that popular of a game as of yet, but as gambling in general continues to become more popular here, it likely will grow in turn. Almost all of the gambling that goes on here is focused on other games, particularly betting on sports, and poker really is well behind as of now anyway, but there is some real potential for interest in the game to pick up in the coming years.
Not long ago, only a tiny percentage of Zimbabweans had access to the internet, but this has really taken off in the last few years, and now almost 40% of the population has internet access, and this figure has doubled in the last three years alone.
Internet access isn’t just important to provide people with the means to play poker, on internet poker sites, it also plays a big role in promoting the game in general. What’s still missing here is an interest at a cultural level, and poker just doesn’t play that big of a role in Zimbabwean culture as of yet, and doesn’t really get that much exposure.
More people being able to go online certainly can’t hurt this though, and while it may take some time for poker to catch up here to some other African countries where it’s already pretty popular, it may just be a matter of time given the love of gambling that Zimbabweans now have.
There is a very limited amount of live poker available here at the casinos, so those who do wish to play some face to face poker do have the opportunity to do so, although there are only a few live poker tables in the whole country. (5)
Zimbabwe has no regulated gambling, so there’s no poker sites located here, although most of the major online poker sites willingly accept players from here. For whatever reason, Poker Stars and Full Tilt have pulled out of the market, probably because it is so small, but there are plenty of good choices to be had if you are ready to play some online poker and are from Zimbabwe.
Top Online Poker Sites Accepting Players from Zimbabwe
There are some great choices if you are from Zimbabwe and either want to try out online poker or are playing it now but are looking for better sites to try out. So here’s our top 4 for you, all great sites, and all well worth trying out. First time players also receive some free poker cash to welcome you.
888 Poker is an outstanding online poker site and have been named the world’s best poker site several times. Players really love them as well and they are the second most popular poker site in the world in terms of traffic, after Poker Stars. You can’t play at Poker Stars if you’re from Zimbabwe but the good news is that 888 is a better poker site anyway overall.
Bet 365 and Titan Poker are two great sites on the iPoker Network, the world’s largest poker network. They don’t have quite the traffic that 888 does but they do have a lot, and these two sites do a great job in laying out some very good poker with lots of variety and, like 888, some nicely soft competition, especially compared to Poker Stars, where the competition is simply fierce, and not in a good way.
Black Chip Poker is another site with players relatively easy to beat, and they are even easier to beat here, which is something we really like, and you should as well if your money matters to you. You simply do better at the tables when the players aren’t that good. Black Chip Poker now boasts a good amount of traffic to go along with this and now is a site to really consider no matter where you’re from.