In early February 2019, President Yuweri Museveni took the decision to implement a ban on online sports betting in Uganda. Two years down the line however, and it must be said that much feels the same. In this article, the mechanics of the betting ban, as well as reasons for the decision to ban betting operators will be unpacked.
…Gambling in Uganda
Part of understanding Uganda’s betting industry, and the subsequent ban is understanding the very nature of gambling in Uganda, and thus the long, destructive history the practice has had on so many lives.
Uganda began developing legal frameworks for a regulated gambling industry as early as 1962, when the nation gained independence, led by Milton Obote. Gambling however had been largely popular in the nation before legal frameworks began becoming popular.
Whether it’s betting within betting shops, land-based casinos, or more recently online betting sites, Ugandans are no strangers to making wagers in the very many forms that they can. This is possibly one of the reasons the country is experiencing the gambling problems that they are.
If we take a look at other leading betting nations in Africa, the heavy hitters such as South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya are each infants compared to Uganda when it comes to implementing legal frameworks for gambling. If we take a look at online betting in South Africa, national gambling frameworks only began being discussed in 1994.
Perhaps part of this problem is due to the fact that Ugandans have had the opportunity to access gambling activities for so long, but this is not the only reason for the country’s worrying gambling issues.
…A Call to Action
For decades now, stories of gambling addiction amongst youth have occupied media outlets in Uganda, and Africa as a whole. The story certainly isn’t one that is new, however the call to action is still one that feels pretty fresh, albeit two years old already.
The betting ban is just that. A call to action. A dramatic response to a devastating problem that has consumed more Ugandans than one could count. Gambling addiction is rife in the nation, and the effects are rather morbid.
It is especially worrying considering the reports of average levels of income. As far as statistics go, a large proportion of Ugandans can’t afford to gamble, but still risk all they have for the thrill of winning more, the very thing that makes gambling as addictive as it is.
And the outcome? Unfortunately, under the veil of addiction, which is often saddled with an indescribable state of desperation, humans go to extreme lengths to get their fixes. Gambling addiction can lead to behaviours that disenfranchise and even hurt others.
What’s clear to see here, is that something had to be done.
…Not an Outright Ban
Where there may be some confusion with this ban is the fact that the intervention was not an outright, closed and shut ban, but rather a ban that would be slowly implemented over time.
The ban was targeted at bookmakers’ licenses. No new bookmaker licenses would be issued, and those with existing licenses would not have them renewed when they began to expire.
As a result, the ban would take time to eventually fade out, one by one prohitbing each and every active bookmaker in Uganda.
This article is sponsored by Trano