The Ugandan government has announced that it will take over the betting activities under a new policy mechanism to manage its interests in the industry. All new and existing gaming and sports betting companies in the country will not be able to renew their licenses.
Finance minister, Mr. Matia Kasaija, in May 14th wrote to Lotteries and Gaming Regulatory Board, following a cabinet decision to early in the year which stopped licensing or renewal of licenses of new and existing gaming and betting businesses in the country, who said it was a direct order from President Museveni.
“Based on the Cabinet resolution, I hereby direct you to stop licensing of gaming and betting with immediate effect,” the letter reads in part.
A public uproar and confusion forced the Finance Minister to clarify a day later that the proposed ban was only applicable to foreign firms whose profit repatriation was hurting Uganda’s economy.
“Cabinet noted the directive by President Museveni to the Minister of Finance to halt the renewal of expired licenses for sports betting activities and issuance of any new licenses to interested parties. After the current licenses issued on sports betting expire, the state would have the monopoly on sports betting activities countrywide,” read the minutes dated January 7
Lotteries and Gaming Regulatory Board chairman, Mr. Manzi Tumubweine had tried to protect the stakeholders by responding to the earlier letter by the finance minister seeking clarification as to why the government was considering the decision to no avail.
“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,” it read.
Sources say that government intends to create a statutory body, to be known as National Gaming and Lotteries Company, which will carry government’s commercial interests in all betting licenses to be issued later under a new licensing regime.