National Gaming Board ups standards as gov’t makes changes in local industry

Gaming operations have been in existence in Uganda for over 50 years with lottery being the main gaming activity carried in the 1960s when the first gaming laws were drafted.

The gaming industry was regulated by the National Lotteries Act of 1967, the Gaming and Pool Betting (Control and Taxation) Act of 1968, and an addendum of statutory guidelines introduced in 2012/13.

However, due to the expansion of the gaming industry, with new games being introduced over time, and in light of technological advancements, many facets of the law relating to lottery and gaming became outdated.

Since 2000, the gaming industry in Uganda has experienced a rapid increase in activity, with various new modes and facilities being introduced. The growth of gaming has seen the industry diversity from the early forms of gaming like; lotteries, casinos, slot machines, bingo, sports betting and pool betting.

The government of Uganda, through the National Gaming Board (NGB), under section 4 of the Lotteries and Gaming Act, 2016 is mandated to issue licenses for Lotteries, Casinos, Gaming and Betting in Uganda. The mandate includes Licensing, Supervision, Enforcement and dispute resolution.

The board has worked together with the gaming companies all over the country to ensure the proper management of the industry.

Sports betting is the most popular where applicants express their interest. Among the 27… the board has licensed so far, only 18 operators run betting retail/physical outlets while the other 9 are online operators.

The Sports betting and slot machine operators are; Kings Sports Betting with 295 branches, ForteBet with 262 branches, Premier bet has 90 branches, Sports betting Africa 95, Best holdings 10, Champion bet 61 while both Bunga Bet and Ultimate Bet have 27 branches each.

The sports betting operators only are; Fair Sports Betting with 25 branches, both Paragon Bet and WordStar Sports Betting with 6 each, Good Bet has 15 branches, Gals Sports Betting with 67, Sahara Gaming 2 and TopBet with the highest at 213.

Slot Machine operators only include; Sastoss Amusements with 26 branches, Club Win with 16 branches, Gemex Uganda 15 and Big win slots with 54 branches.

In general, a total of 1442 premises were approved and licensed by the board. 655 are located upcountry, accounting for 45 percent and 787 in the Kampala Metropolitan Area (Kampala, Mukono and Wakiso districts for 2019) accounting for 55 per cent.

In Kampala Metropolitan area, Kawempe Division has got the most number of branches with 150, Nakawa with 80 branches, Makindye with 135, Central Division having 132, Rubaga Division 105, Mukono District with 30 branches while Wakiso district has got 155 branches.

The industry has grown at unprecedented rate, with tax collections growing from Shs240 million in 2002/3, Shs11.1 billion in 2013/14 and Shs45 billion in 2017/18. Currently a projection for the financial year 2018/19 is Shs50 billion.

In accordance with Section 48 (1) of the Lotteries and Gaming Act 2016 all gaming operators are meant to remit 20 percent pf the total amount of money staked less pay outs for the period of filing returns. Section 188c of the Income Tax Act as amended 2018 a person who makes payment for winnings of betting or gaming shall withhold tax on gross amount of payment at the standard rate of 15 percent.

The sector employs 8959 (professionals and non-professionals) in various capacities like cashiers, branch managers, accountants, marketing agents/sales agents, security guards, chefs for casinos, cleaners and administration.

In the Kampala Metropolitan Area, ForteBet employs the most number of people (1282), followed by Kings sports betting employing 1100, Top bet employs 806, Goal sports betting employs 298, SBA bet 312 while others including casinos, bingo and small scale operators employ 2200.

For upcountry, Kings Sports Betting tops with 809 employees, ForteBet employs 585, Top bet 351, Goal Sports Betting 175, SBA Bet 170 while the rest including casinos, bingo and small scale operators employ 871.

Various gaming operators are sponsoring different football clubs worth billions of shillings. For example Betway, an online gaming company sponsors Express FC to a tune of Shs400 million per year, and TopBet sponsors Mbarara City to a tune of Shs200 million.

It is also a requirement that operators carry out Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) among the communities they operate in. At the end of last financial year, a total of 800 million shillings of CSR was executed by operators ranging from medical support, school fees donations and charity drives among others.

The sector also supports other subsectors through payment of utilities like water, electricity, cable TV (DSTV), internet providers and telecom companies thus creating a positive ripple effect to the economy.

Interventions

The National Gaming Board has developed several interventions in an effort to streamline the sector and remedy emerging issues such as; Limited Ugandan involvement in the gaming sector, high nuisance value of premises and rampant advertising and signage.

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