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Uganda moves to clarify anti-gambling policy against overseas bookies


UGANDA has moved to quickly hose down reports of a nation-wide ban on gambling, stipulating this week that the new policy on bookmaker licenses only applies to international companies.

Last week the Uganda Planning Minister, David Bahati, announced that his Government would no longer be issuing bookmaker licenses in what was presented as a move to eventually ban all forms of gambling.

However, Planning Minister Matia Kasaija said on Monday that this new policy was targeted at only foreign sports betting companies that take their profits from within Uganda, only to spend them elsewhere.

“We’re not banning gaming, we’re saying this activity should be limited to only Ugandans,” said Kasaija.

“We have said that licensees that are running will not be renewed and new ones will not be issued to foreigners because we’ve discovered so much of our money is being exported through that gaming thing which as far as I am concerned has little value to the economy.”

The ‘clarification’ certainly seems like an about-face from the Ugandan Government.

In his statement last week, Bahati referenced religious influence and social concerns surrounding gambling.

“Gambling, sports betting and gambling, there is no renewal of the licences of the companies that are operating,” Bahati said.

“No new companies are going to be licensed, that is what the president has said… The president has directed.”

Addressing the media this week, Kasaija reinforced that “the government’s aim is to strengthen the regulatory framework by reviewing the betting sector in order to regulate the number of betting companies because there are complaints that they are mushrooming everywhere.”

So, it seems that gambling in Uganda has received a lifeline. We will continue to follow this story as it develops.

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