Rwanda Gaming Association Writes the Rwanda Authority Demands Explanation

The Rwanda gaming Association made a press release requesting for explanation why the gaming sector is still prohibited from returning to business after it was shutdown due to national lockdown in March last years as a result of the Covid-19 spread in the country.

However, the association as made press release letter in the circular obtain by E-Play Africa media reads: The Rwanda Gaming Association has submitted several petitions to MINICOM in their role as the gaming regulatory authority with no success initially we suggested a phased reopened approach to sustain our establishments and the gaming industry, it has now been over a year since we shutdown our operations on 16 March 2020.

The Rwanda Gaming Association would like to know why the gaming sector is still prohibited in Rwanda. Most countries have resumed their gaming industries, data and evidence from around the world demonstrate that gaming operation presents a lower Covid risk than many other industries that currently partially open in Rwanda-such as banks, markets the transport sectors e.t.c. We request that Rwanda follow international standards and gradually re-open the gaming industry. We also request greater transperancy from health authorities on how the risk assessment is being made so we can better understand when and under what circumstances we can expect to reopen and what steps we can take to secure authorization.

The prohibition of gaming activities is having tremendous often overlooked impacts on the national economy. The devastating effects of the gaming activities lockdown include, but are not limited to, companies not being able to pay bills such as staff salaries, rent, security guards , housing, transportation, nutrition and even heath care. This has led to putting more than 5,000 direct and indirect employees of the gaming industry out of work. The landlords of more than 1000 gaming premises (with combined pre-Covid revenues of more than RWF 300 million monthly) have been affected.

All these economic actors have also stopped paying taxes because they have no revenue (RGA members paid a combine nearly RWF 3 Billion in taxes for fiscal year 2018-2019). Covid-related closures are also pressing heavily upon members of the gaming association. Closures continue to cause us unpredictable losses as we have no cash flow. Over the past several years we have injected a lot of local and foreign investment. Therefore unless we can reopen as soon as possible, we want to know how the gaming regulatory authority expects us to operate. Is there a specific timeline we can expect for reopening to understand when we can expect our cash flow to resume? Or should we plan for a dire future for our industry where we are forced to release all the staff in our employment, close premises and give house back to their owners to cut our loses?

We also want to know what to expect in terms of compensation for our losses Article 12 of gaming Law N058/2011 of 31/12/2011 (“Governing the Gaming Activities”), stipulates “Suspension or revocation of a national license, where a license is revoked or suspended on the basis of the public interest and upon approval by the Consultative Gaming Committee, the license holder shall receive an equitable compensation. An Order of the Minister in charge of gaming must specify the criteria for the determination of the fair compensation.

“What criteria will the authority use and compensation will be considered fair?”

Given the extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in, we would be very grateful if it could taken into consideration our grievances and provide approval for all our members to be able to operate the same way as it has been given to one of our member CHEZA RWANDA GAMES (Gorilla Games), to continue operating with fair regulation and transparency. We feel the national benefits of our sector are underestimated. The gaming industry has been left without economic relief or assistance and wants to recover and reopen so we can continue to contribute to national development.

However, E-Play Africa had reported earlier that the Ministry of Trade and Industry Rwanda has announced that it is working on a policy focus towards regulating the gambling industry and the online sector. Minister Kamugisha said that only one online betting company there gave a two-year exclusive permit in Rwanda. This sole license holder, he said, is due to expire in July this year.

“Once the exclusive license expires, we will see do an evaluation and set policy for this growing industry. The policy will inform if we can open for all betting companies to operate online betting and gambling or not.”

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