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The Rise of The Sports Betting Industry in Uganda

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Centuries before sports betting sites started operating in Uganda, the people inhabiting this area engaged in primitive gambling activities. As estimated in 2018, Uganda is home to over 42 million people.

According to most historians, the area of present-day Uganda has been inhabited for over 50,000 years or since the Paleolithic era. Fast forward to 1984, this is the year when the country became one of many British Empire protectorates. Finally, Milton Obote led the country to its independence back in 1962.

The second and seventh president of Uganda Milton Obote also made into law the very first gambling act in Uganda. Even though gambling activities were not regulated in Uganda until the late 1960s, gambling has been a part of the everyday life of Ugandans since ancient times.

Various forms of gambling were enjoyed by Ugandans before, during, and after the colonial era. Back in the day, the game called Omweso was played throughout the country. Around the same time, coin tossing was also quite popular among young adults, members of Ugandan tribes.

This leads us to the National Lotteries Act. Back in 1967, the very first formal piece of legislation regarding gambling activities was formed. The National Lotteries Act made all forms of gambling legal.

Alongside the Gaming and Pool Betting Act from 1968, this is the main gambling regulatory form in Uganda. When discussing the legality of sports betting in Uganda, we have to mention the National Gaming Board.

The Establishment of the National Gaming Board

Under the terms of the National Lotteries Act from 1967, Ugandan residents can engage in both offline and online gambling activities. Uganda sports bettors have an amazing variety of legal, fully regulated, and licensed online sports betting sites to explore as reviewed here. Without any legal consequences, they get to play real money bets on a whole range of sports markets while benefiting from highly competitive betting odds.

Gambling activities in Uganda have been legal since the late 60s and the rise of the industry has been tremendous especially in the last several years. Speaking of such activities, the National Gaming Board was formed under the National Lotteries Act.

This governmental agency is supported by a collection of five regulations with the latest of these coming into effect back in May of 2016. The National Lotteries Act mandates the National Gaming Board to:

  1. License online sports betting sites
  2. Monitor online gambling services and products
  3. Regulate all six legal forms of gambling in the country including pool betting, bingo, sports betting, slot machines, casino, and lottery
  4. License online gambling operators
  5. Promote responsible gambling
  6. Make sure all gambling sites operate according to the main piece of legislation

Gambling activities have been present in the country for over five decades. In addition to sports betting, Ugandans are also huge fans of instant lottery and bingo games, slot machines, and classic table games. The Ugandan gambling industry has changed a lot since the very first gambling laws and regulations were drafted.

The industry has grown massively in the last several years and due to its tremendous expansion and more gambling sites emerging on the scene, most gambling laws and regulations in Uganda became outdated.

Amazing Rise in Online Sports Betting and Gambling Activities

Since the early 2000s, the Ugandan gambling industry has experienced an amazing increase in gambling activities among young adults following new gambling establishments including online being introduced.

Since the 2000s, the Ugandan gambling industry has diversified with exciting new activities and new online casino games among other online gambling forms. The tremendous increase in such activities in Uganda is attributed to the greater availability of the Internet, increased usage of cable television, and increased usage of mobile devices.

According to this AgEcon Search report from 2016, the government collected over UGX 0.26 billion in gambling taxes in 2002. Gambling taxes collected in 2013 surpassed UGX 11.1 billion which suggests the rise of the gambling industry in the country has been tremendous.

To prevent underage gambling, the president of Uganda Yoweri Museveni decided that no new remote gaming licenses will be issued for international gambling companies.

Yoweri Museveni alongside lawmakers also decided that that such betting sites already operating in the country will not be able to renew their remote gambling licenses once they expire. As the country’s industry started to show signs of major growth, concerns related to problem gambling also started to surface among lawmakers. Museveni and other Ugandan government officials believe sports betting is only preventing young people from focusing on education and work.

To curb gambling activities, the licensing process was stopped altogether. This was not the very first-time lawmakers have taken steps to slow down the industry’s expansion.

In 2017, the National Lotteries and Gaming Regulatory Board increased revenue taxes on gambling activities to 35%. However, the gambling revenue tax was decreased to 15% after the industry’s giants demanded changes.

While the sports betting industry is rapidly evolving in the country especially among young adults, lawmakers work harder on combating the industry’s negative social impact by increasing taxes and making it harder for new companies to emerge on the scene. Despite new obstacles and challenges, the industry in Uganda continues to evolve led by emerging technological advancements and digitalization.

Major Factors Contributing to the Growing Popularity of Sports Betting in Uganda

For many years, gambling activities in Uganda were unregulated and the country had no formal legislature or legal framework in place to monitor gambling activities. In 2012, lawmakers finally passed regulations for monitoring online gambling activities.

For several years, these companies have been able to operate in the country. Then, new age restrictions came into the picture, and now anyone who wants to gamble online must prove they are at least twenty-five years old. There was a time when it seemed like the Ugandan gambling industry was in danger of being completely shut down.

However, this is not the case as lawmakers are working tirelessly on making the country’s domestic gambling industry stronger. New age restrictions have not negatively affected the gambling industry. One of the major factors driving the growing popularity of sports betting in Uganda is definitely the increasing adoption of mobile devices.

As most other gamblers, Ugandan bettors enjoy mobile entertainment and thanks to a variety of local mobile payment services, this market is expected to grow even more in the years to come.

In fact, it is safe to say that mobile payments are actually revolutionizing the country’s gambling industry by making online activities available to a wider audience. Leading African mobile payment services cater to Ugandan players and most renowned websites work with these companies.

Using M-Pesa allows Ugandan bettors to fund their accounts within seconds. Essentially, the rise of sports betting in Uganda is mainly driven by mobile gaming and according to expert studies, smartphone gaming is also the future.

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