The Uganda Gambling Ban Is Not What It Sounds Like
Earlier this week, reports surfaced that Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni, ordered authorities to stop renewing licenses to betting companies in the country. It looked like Uganda was heading towards a complete ban on the gaming business, but additional information has come out that says otherwise. The Uganda gambling ban will now apply only to foreign firms profiting off the country’s bettors.
That’s sure to be a relief for many here. Uganda has developed a massive gambling market, particular in sports betting. Over the past several years, thousands of betting shops have opened around the country, many of which are operated by companies based overseas.
Did the Government Change Their Mind?
As we mentioned earlier, the government initially stated they planned to stop issuing licenses to all gambling operations in the country. State Minister David Bahati has been critical of gambling in the past, stating that it causes a vicious cycle that is costing many youths their income.
The government may have quickly changed their tune after becoming more aware of the financial losses involved with a full gambling ban. Thousands of Ugandans are daily bettors, and reports indicate that a full ban could cost the government more than 50 billion Ugandan Shilling ($13,540,960 USD) in annual revenue. The potential monetary losses could be enough for the government to backtrack on their outright ban of gambling.
Ugandans in the gambling industry may have also played a part in the government switching their stance. Patrick Lubaale, a sports betting official for a major betting company in Kampala, stated that a ban would have negatively affected thousands of people working in the industry.
What Are They Saying Now?
On Tuesday, Uganda’s Finance Minister, Matia Kasajija, reiterated that the Uganda gambling ban was set in place specifically for foreign companies.
Kasajija told media:
“We’re saying this activity should be limited to only Ugandans. We have said that licensees that are running will not be renewed and new ones will not be issued to foreigners because we’ve discovered so much of our money is being exported through that gaming thing which as far as I am concerned has little value to the economy.”
The Ugandan government is shooting down the notion that foreign gambling companies are “investing” into Uganda. These companies will be able to continue their operations until their licenses expire. The government, at least for now, will not be issuing any new licenses to companies based outside the country.
Will This Affect Online Gambling in Uganda?
According to the government, yes. One of the biggest foreign companies operating in Uganda is BetWay Sportsbook, which has a massive online presence around the world. Uganda plans to monitor the online gambling sector here, and is likely to block many foreign online companies from being able to operate inside the country.
Many in the industry are skeptical of how this will work. Online gambling has become extremely popular in the country over the past several years, and the government’s ability to ban the 30 different internet gaming sites available here may not be as easy as it sounds.
Employees of the aforementioned Betway Sportsbook working in Uganda are certainly against the idea of a ban. It’s likely that they will fight against the government’s decision in court.
When is the Foreign Uganda Gambling Ban Set to Take Effect?
No specific timetable has been set in place for this plan to begin. The Finance Ministry has stated they plan:
“…to determine how many [betting operators] to license and where they should operate across the country,” and an official statement will be made “sooner than later.”
Uganda has changed their mind with regards to the ban already, and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see them change it once again. If many of the foreign gambling firms decide to take legal action against the ban, it could be years before any law is firmly set in place.
For now, Ugandans still have access to some fantastic online gambling sites like Betway Sportsbook. How long will that last? We’ll just have to wait and see.
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