The Ministry of Finance has called for increased regulations of the betting industry arguing that if regulated to its fullest, the sector can contribute to the growth of the economy.
The proposal was made by Betty Kasimbazi, Under Secretary, Ministry of Finance today while interfacing with MPs on the Finance Committee where she had accompanied officials from the Lotteries and Gaming Regulatory Board to present their 2019/2020 ministerial policy statement.
Kasimbazi gave an example of countries like South Africa, Australia, Canada and US that make a lot of money from betting because they have controlled systems.
She said Las Vegas is one of the famous cities when it comes to gambling, but there is no betting that takes place on the streets.
She said that Uganda needs to borrow a leaf from Las Vegas where they have put up strict rules to ensure casinos are placed strictly in hotels and pool tables are located inside bars instead of being everywhere like the case is in Uganda.
“That is why we have a problem, betting should be in controlled areas, so to me I think it is a problem of regulation. If we could regulate the industry, it is beneficial in South Africa, it funds the African National Congress (ANC), I am sure it would fund the NRM, they use the money for party purposes,” Kasimbazi said.
She added: “In Britain it is a very big industry especially for the old, they do it online so it doesn’t take anybody’s time and win big money. It is an industry like any other, but it needs a lot of regulation.”
Edgar Agaba, Chief Executive Officer, Gaming and Lotteries Regulatory Board argued that even if the law limit the age of betting to 25years, there are cases of people who aren’t 25years and above getting involved in betting and there is need to find a way to regulate and stream line the gaming industry in this country.
He also told the Committee that the Regulatory Board recently suffered a setback when one Ugandan dragged Government to court, contesting the 25year old limit for betting.
“We have been challenged in court that how comes a person who is 18years can be President but cannot bet. So there is a court case regarding that, as we speak, there is a court injunction, we can’t enforce the age of 25years. The matter is before the constitutional court, for constitutional interpretation whether an 18year old cannot participate in betting yet can participate in a contract,” Agaba revealed.
The Board had projected to collect Shs45bn in revenues in 2018/19 and by December Shs22bn had collected and upon the conclusion of the procurement process for Central monitoring system, the Board anticipates that the full implementation of the process will see the revenue collections increase to Shs70bn.
He also announced plans to amend the legislation that seeks to reduce the number of shops, signage and advertising and the opening hours.
Among the activities to be undertaken in the 2019/2020 Financial Year, the Board is seeking to develop Engage, Educate and Enforce campaign that is to be implemented every year through sensitizing different stakeholders including district leaders and law enforcement agencies across the country and this will require Shs338M.
The Board also plans to establish and maintain a National Central Electronic Monitoring System that will help to detect age gaming, addiction, money laundering and monitor revenues and the equipment is expected to cost Shs10.5bn payable in three installments.
Also the Board intends to carry out countrywide inspection and monitoring operations of gaming premises on quarterly basis and prepare inspection reports, license qualifying applicants among others at Shs585M.