President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda has ordered that no new sports betting company should be licensed to operate in the country. He also ordered that the licences of existing companies should not be renewed.
The Minister of State for Finance in charge of Planning, Mr David Bahati, revealed on Sunday that the President believes sports betting has diverted the attention of youth from hard work.
“We have received a directive from President Museveni to stop licensing sports betting, gaming and gambling companies. The President has now directed the board which has been regulating them…. From now onwards, no new companies are going to be licensed. Those which are already registered, no renewal of licences when they expire,” Mr Bahati told a church congregation at Rugarama Hill in Kabale Town on Sunday, at the closure of a four-day conference where he represented the President as chief guest.
In just a few years, betting shops, a lot majoring in football, have sprang up in cities, towns and villages across Uganda, and other parts of the African continent.
Sports betting operators have however expressed shock and disbelief at the announcement, lamenting that it endangers their investment.
A report by AFP quotes Samuel Mutekanga, an operator at one of the leading sports betting companies in Kampala, Betway, as saying that he was shocked by the decision.
“The directive is not only a surprise but shocking. It is a danger to our investment,” he said.
“Were we consulted? No. How can such a ban come in a pedestrian way? Where does it leave the money we have invested?” he added.
Patrick Lubaale, another sports betting official at Galz Betting in downtown Kampala, said thousands of people depended upon the industry.
“If the president is complaining about the negative effects on young people, we have already been sensitising the public about the irresponsible betting and people are aware about this, but this should not be reason to ban the trade,” he said.