Before Ugandan sports betting companies began to operate there, the local population here engaged in traditional gambling practices. Over 45 million people live in Uganda, according to estimates from last year.
Historical Background of Sports Betting in Uganda
Milton Obote, Uganda’s second and seventh president, was also responsible for passing the country’s first gambling law. Gambling has been a part of daily life for many Ugandans even though it wasn’t legalized there until the late 1960s.
Ugandans indulged in a variety of gambling activities before, during, and after the colonial period. Omweso was a popular game that was played back then all throughout the nation. Coin throwing was also very common among young adults from Ugandan tribes at the same time.
The National Lotteries Act was brought forward as a result. The first formal piece of gambling-related law was established in 1967. The National Lotteries Act legalized gambling in all its forms.
This is Uganda’s primary gaming regulation framework, together with the 1968 Gaming and Pool Betting Act. When talking about whether or not sports betting is legal in Uganda, the National Gaming Board must be mentioned.
Residents of Uganda are permitted to partake in both offline and online gambling activities in accordance with the provisions of the National Lotteries Act from 1967. Sports bettors in Uganda have a huge selection of fully licensed, controlled, and legal online sports betting companies to choose from. They are allowed to place real money wagers on a variety of sports markets without fear of legal repercussions and gain access to extremely favorable betting markets and odds.
Establishment of the National Gaming Board
Since the late 1960s, when gambling became legal in Uganda, the sector has seen significant growth, particularly in recent years. The National Lotteries Act, which is relevant here, created the National Gaming Board.
Five guidelines govern this government organization, with the most recent of these going into effect in May 2016. The National Gaming Board is required by the National Lotteries Act to:
- Licensing all forms of online sports betting sites
- Monitoring online gambling activities, products, and services
- Regulating all the six legal forms of gambling in the country including pool betting, bingo, sports betting, slot machines, casino, and lottery
- Licensing of all online gambling players
- Promoting responsible gambling in the nation
- Ensure all gambling sites operate in accordance with the law.
The country has had gambling operations for more than 50 years. Ugandans are passionate fans of instant lottery, bingo, slot machine, and traditional table games in addition to sports betting. Since the very first gaming laws and regulations were established, the gambling sector in Uganda has seen a significant transformation.
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Most gambling laws and regulations in Uganda have become obsolete as a result of the industry’s rapid growth over the past few years and the emergence of more gaming sites.
Online Sports Betting and Gambling Activities Have Increased Stunningly
Following the introduction of new gambling sites, notably internet casinos, the Ugandan gambling industry has seen an astounding rise in gambling activity among young individuals since the early 2000s.
The Ugandan gambling market evolved during the 2000s with fun new activities, new online casino games, and other online gambling types. Due to increased Internet accessibility, increased cable television use, and increased mobile device use, these activities have dramatically increased in Uganda.
Growth in Numbers
In 2002, the government received more than UGX 0.26 billion in gaming taxes, per this AgEcon Search report from 2016. The fact that gaming taxes collected in 2013 totaled more than UGX 11.1 billion indicates that the country’s gambling business has grown significantly.
Challenges Facing the Sports Betting industry in Uganda
Underage gambling, which the present administration has been combatting, is one of the primary challenges facing the sector. Yoweri Museveni, the president of Uganda, decided not to issue any new licenses for remote gaming to foreign gambling organizations in order to curb the vice.
Along with parliamentarians, Yoweri Museveni agreed that the nation’s existing betting firms would not be permitted to renew their licenses for online gambling once they expired. Legislators began to express worries about problem gambling as the country’s sector began to demonstrate significant development. Sports betting, in the opinion of Museveni and other Ugandan government representatives, merely distracts young people from concentrating on their studies and jobs.
Gaming Taxes Revisions
While the country’s sports betting market is expanding quickly, especially among young individuals, policymakers are working harder to prevent the sector’s detrimental societal effects by raising taxes and making it more difficult for new businesses to enter the market.
The application procedure for licenses was completely suspended to reduce gaming activity. Legislators have intervened before to halt the growth of the sector. This time was no exception.
The National Lotteries and Gaming Regulatory Board increased gaming revenue taxes to 35% in 2017. However, as industry titans pushed adjustments, the gambling revenue tax was lowered to 15%. The rate for operators in Uganda was set at 20% as of 2023. On April 2023, The country’s finance minister proposed a 10% increase in the gaming and lotteries tax in order to bring about other changes that are thought to boost the industry while protecting vulnerable players. Later, this was made into law.
Despite new hurdles and obstacles, Uganda’s industry is still growing, with digitization and new technology developments driving this change.
Factors Contributing to the Growth of the Sports Betting Industry in Uganda
Gaming was unregulated in Uganda for a long time, and there was no specific legislation or legal framework in place to regulate gaming. Legislators eventually approved rules for regulating online gambling in 2012.
These businesses have been able to conduct business in the nation for a while. Then, new age restrictions were implemented, and anyone wishing to bet online must now provide proof that they are at least 25 years old. There was a period when it appeared that the gambling market in Uganda might soon be shut down entirely.
Undoubtedly, the expanding use of mobile devices is one of the key elements boosting sports betting’s appeal in Uganda.
Gamblers in Uganda love mobile entertainment like most other gamblers do, and this sector is anticipated to expand over the coming years thanks to a number of local mobile payment providers.
In fact, it’s reasonable to argue that mobile payments are altering the nation’s gaming business by enabling a larger range of people to access online activities. Ugandan players are catered to by top African mobile payment systems and the most prestigious websites partner with these.
Gamblers in Uganda can fund their accounts instantly by using mobile money methods such as MTN and Airtel. Essentially, mobile gaming is what has led to an increase in sports betting in Uganda, and expert studies indicate that smartphone gaming is also the future of the industry.
We asked one of the industry Titans about his thoughts on recent regulations that have seen some operators drop from the race and the future of the betting industry in Uganda.
On Recent Regulations: The new 30% gaming tax was supposed to be effected with a deduction of WHT by 10% from 15% but unfortunately both are active as per URA so we are yet to see these departed and streamlined therefore failure to have an amendment to effect these will definitely hurt the industry.
On the Future of the industry: Due to the unprecedented outbreak of covid that forced many African countries into lockdowns of over 24 months lead to tremendous increase in both internet and mobile phone penetration which has paved way for great growth in online gaming that’s leading to a shift in the industry’s facets where online is now swallowing retail so in the next 5 years I believe Ugandan gaming industry will be more online than retail.stated Najib Balinda, Chief Business Development officer, Genius Gaming Consult
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