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MPs Propose Ban On Daytime Sports Betting

A section of MPs on Parliament’s Finance Committee have proposed a ban on day time sports betting but instead have the activity carried out in the evening after work.


Kabula County MP, Enos Asiimwe suggested the proposal during a meeting held between the National Lotteries and Gaming Regulatory Board and the Finance Committee, where he argued that the current practice has encouraged youth to be idle thus creating need for the revision of regulations.


“Why don’t you initiate the changes in the regulations; if we can change the time from 5Pm after working hours up to 2am to make youth more productive because you find people gaming as early as 10am,” Asiimwe said.


Denis Ngabirano, Acting Chief Executive Officer, who also doubles as Head Strategy and Corporate Affairs at National Lotteries and Gaming Regulatory Board said that the time within which sports betting is being conducted are some of the regulations Government is coming up with in the upcoming amendments.


“We have quite a number of amendments and new regulations we are putting in place and time is one of the issues that we want to amend. However as you realize, most gaming activities are migrating online, actually 60% of the gaming activities are online so basically the time will affect majorly casinos,” said Ngabirano.


However, Asiimwe asked the Board to liaise with the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to ensure that for online betting, the websites aren’t accessible during working hours.


Meanwhile, Pakwach District Woman MP, Jane Pacuto, rejected the proposal to have betting take place after working hours, saying this would lay fertile ground for domestic betting if men refuse to return home after work in preference for betting.


“We need another debate because I don’t buy what Enos is saying. You are going to create domestic violence, people starting to do things from 7Pm up to 2Am. How?” remarked Pacuto.


Regulation 6 of the Lotteries and Gaming (Betting) Regulations 2017 provides that betting premises shall operate and be open to the public from 10am to 4am.


During the meeting, the Board requested for Shs2Bn for the creation of a national Central Electronic Monitoring System that will be used to detect and monitor significant events associated with gaming activities.


The money is in fulfillment of a contract signed by Ministry of Finance in June 2020 on behalf of the board, thus creating a contractual obligation to a tune of Shs10.833Bn.


Ngabirano informed the Committee that if the funds are approved, it will be critical at boosting revenue collections in the betting sector, pointing out that between July 2021 and March 2022, the Board has collected Shs79.7Bn in taxes, with the Board expecting to collect Shs92.7Bn in the whole FY.


“This system is important to monitor significant events that happen on gaming systems and machines, this system is going to be interfaced with every gaming software and it will enable the Board monitor tax collection, responsible gaming to ensure we stop under age gaming and it has an anti-money laundering module to report suspicious transactions,” explained Ngabirano.


Commenting on the recent development where Julius Osita, a Kyambogo University student used his tuition to bet and lost it all at one of the betting centres in Banda, near the university at a tune of Shs600,000, Ngabirano said the Board had reached out at Osita to offer him counseling to treat his addiction.


“We have already established partnerships with all regional referral hospitals. As I speak, we have already received 10 cases of problem gamblers and we have linked all of them to these hospitals and counseling is taking place,” Ngabirano said.

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