By Hanning Mbabazi
Kampala: The government of Uganda has issued a directive banning renewal of licenses for existing gaming and sports betting companies and licensing new ones.
This comes after the January 2019 complaints from President Yoweri Museveni, who said that Ugandan youth are trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty because of betting, whereby they stake their little earnings believing that they might win a jackpot in every stake, only to end up losing everything. He said religious leaders had also complained that online betting has reduced productivity among Uganda’s youngsters, thereby sinking families further into poverty.
In an open letter copied to the permanent Secretary Keith Muhakanizi, dated May14th, 2019, the finance minister Matia Kasaija wrote to the Lotteries and Gaming Regulatory Board, the industry regulator, reinforcing the January Cabinet resolution which stopped licensing or renewal of licenses of new and existing gaming and betting businesses in Uganda. “Based on the Cabinet resolution, I hereby direct you to stop licensing of gaming and betting companies with immediate effect,” the letter reads in part. Kasaija’s letter was a response to a letter dated April 24th by the Lotteries and Gaming Regulatory Board chairman Manzi Tumubweine, who required guidance on relicensing of gaming and lotteries companies in light of earlier contradictory statements.
“The Board received 60 applications for the licensing of 2019 and evaluated them accordingly. The purpose of this letter is to request for clarification regarding licensing of gaming and betting and your guidance on how to deal with operators who applied in time as per the law; met all requirements for licensing for 2019; and are presently in operation since the board did not require them to stop operations while submitting missing requirements for license renewal….” Manzi’s letter reads in part. The government announced that it will take over the betting activities under a new policy mechanism to manage its interests in the country.