Rwanda Gaming Operators Reopened After one year

Rwanda’s government finally agreed to allow gaming operators and other activities in the country to resume their business operations after over one year of being out of business for bookmakers and casino operators in the country.

However, in a cabinet communiqué chaired by His Excellency Paul Kagame at Urugwiro Village on May 31, 2021, the cabinet approved resolutions meetings on May 5, 2021, which review measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new measures agreed upon at the resolution take effect nationwide from June and shall be reviewed after one month upon health assessment. The communiqué was seen by E-Play Africa Media state “on the condition that gaming operators shall resume activities gradually upon fulfilling COVID-19 preventive measures. At the same time, the Ministry of Trade and Industry will provide detailed guidelines to follow“.

Further, citizens are reminded of the critical importance of complying with health measures, including physical distancing wearing face masks, and hand hygiene penalties will apply for noncompliance.

The report is, of course, an intriguing development for the gaming operators that have been out of business for over one year. Online gambling and betting are exclusive to one operator, CHEZA RWANDA GAMES (Gorilla Games). This has been one of the biggest catalysts for other gaming operators in the country. Even though the authorities are working on a new policy to regulate online betting and gambling, hence it has been reported that the exclusive license expires in July this year. The Ministry of Trade director has promised once the exclusive license expires, they will evaluate and set policy for this growing industry. And determine if they can open for all betting companies to operate online betting and gambling or not. This development shows that it has been challenging for retail operators in Rwanda, unlike in some other African countries that iGaming betting and gambling are not exclusive.

In essence, the Rwanda government is one of the first African countries to impose a national lockdown. Thus, the government has set some measures that gaming operators must adhere to upon fulfilling COVID-19 preventive measures. At the same time, further guidelines are detailed to be communicated and provided by the Ministry of Trade and Industry in due time. However, Part of the communiqué meeting agreed and shared with the operators that the government stated that gaming operators should be aware of its stand regarding business opening, and the government will review all measures after one month upon health assessment.

Meanwhile, earlier, E-play Africa media report the Rwanda Gaming Association demand an explanation and compensation. After the shutting down of retail gambling operation due to the national lockdown in March last year as a result to the Covid-19 spread in the country. The petition written to the government also states other African countries have resumed their gaming industries. Data and evidence worldwide demonstrate that gaming operation presents a lower Covid-19 risk than many other industries currently partially open in Rwanda, such as banks, markets, and transport.

However, the shutdown of business for gambling companies has led to more than 5,000 direct and indirect employees of the gaming industry out of work. More than 1000 gaming premises (with combined pre-Covid-19 revenues of more than RWF 300 million monthly) have been affected in one year. They contribute a combined tax of nearly RWF 3 Billion in taxes for 2018-2019. It is quite a sigh of relief for stakeholders, operators whose government has finally listened to their complaints.

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