ganda government has stopped renewal or issuance of licences to new and existing gaming and sports betting companies in the country “with immediate effect.” The government announced that it will take over the betting activities under a new policy mechanism to manage its interests in the industry.
On May 14, the Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija, wrote to Lotteries and Gaming Regulatory Board, the industry regulator, reinforcing a Cabinet decision early this year which stopped licensing or renewal of licences of new and existing gaming and betting businesses in the country.
“Based on the Cabinet resolution, I hereby direct you to stop licensing of gaming and betting with immediate effect,” the letter reads in part, as reported by Daily Monitor. The letter is copied to the Secretary to the Treasury Keith Muhakanizi.
The cessation of licensing betting companies was first revealed by David Bahati, the State Minister of Finance for Planning, early this year while he addressed a Church congregation in Kabale Town. He said President Yoweri Museveni had directed halting of issuance of licences or renewing existing ones to all betting companies.
The announcement sparked public uproar and confusion, forcing Kasaija to clarify a day later that the proposed ban was only applicable on foreign firms whose profit repatriation was hurting Uganda’s economy.
“Cabinet noted the directive by President Museveni to the Minister of Finance to halt the renewal of expired licenses for sports betting activities and issuance of any new licenses to interested parties. After the current licences issued on sports betting expire, the state would have the monopoly on sports betting activities countrywide,” a January 14 Cabinet minute states.
Kasaija’s May 14 letter was a response to an earlier letter on April 24 by the Lotteries and Gaming Regulatory Board chairman, Manzi Tumubweine, who sought guidance on licensing of gaming and lotteries companies in light of earlier contradictory statements.
In the April 24 letter, a copy seen by Daily Monitor, Tumubweine said in absence of a proper position and in light of their mandate under section 27 of the Lotteries and Gaming Act, they had invited applications for licensing in 2019, which process had commenced in October 2018. “The board received 60 applications for the licensing of 2019 and evaluated them accordingly,” Tumubweine wrote to Kasaija.
“The purpose of this letter is to request for clarification regarding licensing of gaming and betting and your guidance on how to deal with operators who applied in time as per the law; met all requirements for licensing for 2019; and are presently in operation since the board did not require them to stop operations while submitting missing requirements for licence renewal.”
Furthermore, the Educate Ghana Summit wants President Akufo-Addo to introduce a piece of legislation in Parliament to protect the youth in the country from activities of betting companies or institute an outright ban on the companies to operate in the country.
The request was contained in a petition letter to the President, signed by the Chief Executive Officer of the Group, William Boadi, dated May 27, 2019. They want the President to copy the example of the Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, who has ordered that no new licenses should be issued for the establishment of sports betting, gaming and gambling companies or renewal of the licenses of such companies upon their expiration.
They argue that the activities of sports betting companies in the country are encouraging the youth to be lazy and engage in violent activities. They are of the view that the energy of these youthful assets to the country could be put to better use rather than wasting it to support activities of gambling.
They bemoan the fact that children below the ages of 18 years who are supposed to be in school are allowed to engage in the activities of these gaming centres at night and during the day.