Ugandan President, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has released a directive to stop licensing sports betting, gaming and gambling starting on the 22nd of January 2019. This ban was revealed during a Brethren Conference church gathering by the Minister of State for Finance, David Bahati.
The directive stated that new gambling licenses should not be issued and the existing ones should not be renewed.
The sport betting companies has had significant growth across Africa whereas Uganda as an individual country has a well-developed gambling industry but this has promoted idleness among the youths as most gamblers are below the age of 35. These gamblers install their bets as mobile applications on their phones thus easy to access and very addictive among the youth as they aim to make quick cash without too much hustle. Lots of unemployed and desperate Ugandan youths are using sports betting as a means of employment and a solution to this problem.
According to Samuel Mutekanga, an operator at a leading sports betting company in Kampala, Betway, was shocked by the directive as he regarded this directive as a risk to investment. Another sports betting official in the downtown of Kampala, said thousands of people depended upon the industry and that is approximately 75%. Henceforth with this ban, crime rates will increase as the youths will resort to prostitution, drug abuse, money laundering and terror financing.
The directive by the President to ban online sports betting is not going well with sports betting companies as these companies were never consulted by the government thus now their investments are in danger. Company officials pleaded that the government should implement this directive in a well thought manner to bring up more social development among the young people. Such a manner includes educating the youth the dangers of betting. In a new regime,as President Museveni notes, the government will determine the number of betting companies and where they will operate but however this regulatory framework need to be strengthened.
Sport betting has become a phenomenon across East Africa with smartphones that enable online and app-based gambling. Moreover, in Uganda gambling is legal and includes lotteries, casinos and gaming and pool betting. In this country, there are an estimated of over 2,000 active gambling and betting operators.