Uganda’s Ban on Sports Betting was the Right Thing to Do

In 2019, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda announced that no licenses would be issued to new gambling operators. Besides, he ordered that existing permits should not be renewed once they expire. In recent years, Uganda has witnessed a snowballing effect in the betting industry, resulting in widespread addiction problems within the population.

A higher percentage of affected bettors were youths, who had made the practice a full-time job. The concern of President Yoweri Museveni was to safeguard their future. In fact, the whole government holds the opinion that sports gambling has diverted the attention of youths from working hard in life.

This announcement forms part of the efforts to eliminate gambling. Two years prior, the National Lotteries and Gambling Regulatory Board of Uganda imposed a 35% tax rate upon every item of revenue from gambling. This is relatively high, and it was meant to discourage most operators. However, many of the companies continued to operate illegally while applying measures to evade tax.

A Continental Concern

Uganda is just an example of many African countries that are grappling with the effects of gambling. Many of them have banned the business, allowing only a couple of operators who comply fully with the regulations. For example, in 2018, Kenya applied a 35% tax rate on gambling revenue with the same objective of discouraging gambling operators in the country. However, this decision was met with a lot of resistance from gambling stakeholders who lobbied and managed to convince the government to reduce the rate up to 15%.

The gambling industry in Africa remains under-researched; therefore, it is difficult to analyze the impact it has on the general population. Due to lack of evidence, countries have a lot of difficulties coming up with sufficient policies to govern the industry. More fundamentally, there are serious lobbyists of gambling who influence governments to retain the business because of the effects that it has on the industry.

Uganda could be right in their decision to ban gambling because of the devastating social impacts it has on youths. This is a strong case against gambling operators due to the health concerns they pose to young people. Sub-Saharan Africa is adversely affected because of the large number of youths engaged in gambling.

Lack of Support

President Museveni’s decision to ban gambling in Uganda was a noble idea, but he lacks unqualified support from other governments and even the gambling industry. Some influential entities like the Professional Golfers Association and American Gaming Association instead support the gambling activities, indicating that they generate massive revenues for countries. They hold the opinion that if a country embraces gambling, it can comfortably fund its national debt, trigger economic growth and provide social and entertainment programs to its people.

Consequences of the Ban on Gambling in Uganda

Gambling is believed to be a huge revenue resource for governments, but President Museveni chose to forego these interests for the sake of the Ugandan population. This action will safeguard the youths from effects of gambling which include mental health disorders and addiction. Uganda will have a healthier society that works genuinely to find income, unlike other countries that are still legalizing the gambling practice.

There are many other sources of revenue for a country, and the Ugandan government believes that the state can become rich without compromising the safety of its population. More meaningful activities like tourism and mining should be promoted because they do not impose adverse effects directly to the citizens. With the absence of gambling, many youths will focus on pursuing their careers and work in these industries. Essentially, Uganda will have a sound economy that is devoid of vulnerable individuals.

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