The National Gaming Board (NGB) has proposed sweeping changes in the local gaming industry, one of them will have punters present personal identification documents before being allowed in betting halls.
According to a document that Eagle Online has in possession, the requirement for the identification is meant to protect the young people or minors from the bad effects of betting.
NGM now commands operators to register all punters accessing their premises or online. The punters will provide their names, national identification number, registered telephone number, nationality and passport number for foreigners and refugee cards for refugees.
NGB says is the process of developing regulations for identifications and registration of all punters to protect the minors, to ensure the identification of problem gamblers but also ensure accountability and facilitation of taxation operators.
The Parliament of Uganda early last year passed 25 years as the betting activities age for Ugandans and other groups. This practically made it illegal for youths under 25 to engage in betting and gambling, that included working in the betting companies.
The constitution of Uganda 1995 does not define a minor, however several references are made to age from which understanding of who a minor is can be deprived. The constitution provides that a man and a woman are entitled to marry if they are each of the age of eighteen and above.
It provides that children are entitled to be protected from social or economic exploitation and shall not be employed in or required to perform work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with their education or to be harmful to their health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development. For purposes of this, children shall be under the age of 16.
The constitution also provides that every citizen of Uganda of eighteen years of age or above has a right to vote.
For above few references, it is clear that a minor is someone who is below the age of 18 and for purposes of employment 16.
Perusal of the Hansard establishes that the intent of parliament was to protect parents whose students were gambling at university. They then resolved to have a minor defined as someone below 25 years.
It is clear that the intent was to create a prohibition which is something that could have been done without having to define who a minor was. The prohibition was to prevent persons under 25 years from gambling and working in a gambling house.
However with the advent of the internet and with most applicants including betting advertisements it is not clear how legislating it this stringently can deter anyone from gambling.
The 25-year was arrived at to stop students at the university but did not cater for persons who are out of school and have been for so much longer which is the group of persons who mostly resort to gambling as other formal prospects of employment are closed out to them.
18 years is the gambling age according to the Lotteries and Gaming Act in compliance with the constitutional provisions.
NGB Uganda under section 4 of the Lotteries and Gaming Act, 2016 is mandated to issue licenses for Lotteries, Casinos, Gaming and Betting in Uganda. The mandate includes Licensing, Supervision, Enforcement and dispute resolution.
The Board has powers to conduct investigation, examination, inspection and issue guidelines, directives or instructions for the proper management of the industry.
Gambling in Uganda includes: lotteries, casinos, slot machines, bingo, sports betting and pool betting.