Rwanda Working on new Policy to Regulate the Gambling Industry

The Ministry of Trade and Industry has announced that it is working on a policy focus towards regulating the gambling industry and the online sector. The development follows due to the growing prevalence of online betting and gambling in the country, requiring proper regulation and inspection to ensure safety.

According to the local media report, the Covid-19 outbreak is also part of the notion driven by this new policy the authorities are working on as operators in Rwanda rely on retail operations but was left with nothing during the national lockdown in the country. Samuel Kamugisha, the Director of Industry and Entrepreneurship Development at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, told local media that the policy could be available by the end of this year. It is reported that many betting companies have applied for a license also to begin online betting operation; Kamugisha said that there is only one online betting company that they gave a two-year exclusive permit in Rwanda. This exclusive 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. We still need to protect this industry by establishing laws and guidelines that govern it,” – he said.

Meanwhile, to ensure the safety of online betting, he said the ministry is working with different institutions such as RURA, police, and others stakeholders to help monitor if anything goes wrong.

“All people under 18 years are not allowed to play such games. We also work with the health minister and also oblige the online companies to periodically asses’ addiction among their clients,” – he said.

The Director explained that the policy on the industry, in general, is needed because currently, the ministry is facing a big challenge as it is working as a ‘policy maker’. At the same time as a ‘regulator.’

“The challenge we have today is that we have not yet established a policy. We need a policy framework for regulation in the betting sector. This is a huge challenge. If things go as planned, we hope that by the end of this year, we will have availed the policy,” – he said.

The Director said the policy would establish several guidelines to regulate the industry.

“For example, it will define the number of companies that should be licensed; it will tell us if we should take the betting sector as other normal businesses in which everyone can venture.”

He added that the policy would also define who gives the guidelines that regulate, monitor, and inspect what the betting companies do daily.

“It has to tell us who should play these games and the standard of gaming shops. We also need to discern which agency should regulate and inspect the industry. So the policy is required, and the law probably is a review after – he said.

So afar, he said the betting sector is governed by 2011 law and 2013 ministerial; guidelines set up procedures for getting licensed. So far, only Gorilla Games Rwanda, owned by Cheza Rwanda Games Limited, has an exclusive license to offer online betting activities in the country. However, some companies have applied for permits to do online betting business through the ministry of trade and industry but have not yet received feedback.

However, the gambling industry started in 2004 in Rwanda under the name of sports and cultural lottery, in which there are different gaming categories. Namely, sports betting, gambling machines facilities or slot machines, casino games, horserace, and a national lottery which is yet to resume operation despite having gotten a provisional license. Currently, there are 24 companies in different categories of gaming in Rwanda. According to statistics from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the companies had created over 2,000 jobs before the Covid-19 pandemic.

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