The entire process of living in Zimbabwe is something of a gamble at the moment, so you might think that there would be little appetite for patronizing Zimbabwe’s casinos. Actually, it seems to be working the other way around, with the desperate economic circumstances leading to a greater desire to gamble, to try and find a quick win, a way out of the problems.
For most of the locals living on the meager local wages, there are two popular forms of gambling, the national lottery and Zimbet. Just as with most everywhere else in the world, there is a national lottery where the odds of winning are extremely low, but then the prizes are also extremely high. It’s been said by economists who study the subject that most do not buy a ticket in the rational expectation of winning; people understand the odds well enough. Rather, the possession of a ticket that might win that fortune acts as a pleasure in itself, dreaming about what could be done, if it did win. Zimbet is based on either the local or the UK football leagues and involves predicting the results of future matches.
Zimbabwe’s casinos, on the other hand, cater to the very rich of the society and tourists. Until recently, there was a very large tourist industry, based on safaris and visits to Victoria Falls. The economic woes and associated violence have cut into this trade.
Amongst Zimbabwe’s casions, there are two in the capital, Harare, the Carribea Bay Resort and Casino, which has five gaming tables and slots, and the Plumtree Casino, which has just the slot machines. The Zambesi Valley Hotel and Entertainment Centre in Kariba also has just slots. Mutare has the Monclair Hotel and Casino and the Leopard Rock Hotel and Casino, both of which have gaming tables and slot and video machines, and Victoria Falls has the Elephant Hills Hotel and Casino and the Makasa Sun Hotel and Casino, both of which have gaming machines and tables.
In addition to Zimbabwe’s casinos and the above mentioned lottery and Zimbet (which is very like a pools system), there are also two horse racing tracks in the country: the Matabeleland Turf Club in Bulawayo (the second city) and the Borrowdale Park in Harare.
Given that the economy has shrunk by more than 40% in recent years and with the associated poverty and violence that has resulted, it isn’t known how well the tourist industry which supports Zimbabwe’s casinos will do in the near future. How many of them will survive until things improve is simply unknown.