A Brief History of Gambling in Rwanda

Officially referred to as The Republic of Rwanda, it is a landlocked country found in the Eastern part of Africa that neighbors Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Burundi. The country was faced with one of the worst civil wars in history, it is a country that has had its struggles economically, but all may seem to be taking shape at the moment.

With that history in mind, it may come to you as a surprise that the country is a gambling nation, with particular interest in online casino gambling, lotteries, and sports betting, both of which have been legalized and put under regulation since 2011. Before then, since the year 2004, there were no rules governing the sector, as more control came in 2013 when the Rwanda Gambling Board was set up.

Online Casino Gambling

Since the gambling laws took effect, operators of online casinos are expected to get operational licenses from the board before starting business. The surprising fact about this, however, is that no online casino operators have operating licenses, implying that the country does not have any legalized online casinos.

Why There are No Licensed Online Casinos

Internet connectivity is an essential need for the thriving of online casinos, yet the country has a relatively low internet penetration rate, as slightly more than 10 percent of Rwandans have internet connectivity access. Besides that, the market for online casinos is less attractive, hence the presence of very few local companies in the market. Nevertheless, the nature of the legal framework for gambling in online casinos has not deterred some local and international companies from investing in the business.

At the moment, the best options of online casinos are international. The presence of online censorship is only there for political content monitoring as it does not target online gambling. Rwandans are, therefore, free to engage in gaming from any overseas online casino, most of which are user friendly and ready to welcome new members.

Some of the online casinos in the country include:
• Casino Cruise
• ComeOn
• Bethard
• Slots Haven
• Cherry Casino
Most of these casinos have thrived since they offer a lot in terms of welcome incentives in the form of bonuses that entice new customers into gambling.

Sports Betting

Betting on sporting activities is something that mainly started in the year 2004, with betting on football as the most famous in the country. This could be attributed to the fact that the country qualified for its first African Cup of Nations competition that year, despite the fact that it was knocked out in the initial rounds. Although it took another decade before it could qualify again, betting on the game has developed into a business that is lucrative and contributing a lot towards the Rwandan economy. The popularity of other international leagues, especially in Europe has contributed immensely towards the development of sports betting.

Some of the most prominent sports betting companies in the country include:
• 1XBet
• Bet 365
• 22 Bet
• Betway
• Megapari
The fast growth of the sector however prompted the government to include sports betting laws to regulate the sector that has seen many people, mostly the youth engaging in irresponsible gambling. This has also seen some companies losing their licensing as a result of flouting regulation laws.

Lottery Betting

The first national lottery in the country was established in the year 2008 under the name National Lottery. The company running the lottery at that time was Tilia Games using a license from the Lotto Rwanda. The company is a branch of GSI, a multinational company that at the time had launched more than 30 lotteries internationally, including in Europe, South Africa, and USA. Lotto Rwanda, which is in existence to date started as a government initiative with shares of up to 40 percent, while the rest are owned privately. As per the initial agreements, the main intention of the earnings from the lotteries is to enhance the culture and sports of the country, besides the promotion of entertainment.


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