Kampala. East African governments have renewed efforts to bring the betting industry under strict control amid claims of tax evasion and fears of a growing gambling culture and addition among the youth, who are mostly unemployed.
Kenya and Uganda have moved to vet industry players with threats of revocation of licences to tame the proliferation of betting, gaming and gambling outlets.
Despite imposing a punitive tax regimes, restricting the importation of gaming devices and impounding and burning gambling machines, the sector has continued to record growth.
Uganda levies a 35 per cent tax on betting, while in Kenya, the same was reduced to 15 per cent after lobbying by sector players.
While both countries have resorted to drastic measures to contain a sector that has largely become a social and economic menace, Tanzania enacted a strong regulatory framework through the Gaming Act, 2003.
In the 2017/18 financial year, Tanzania collected $36 million from gaming and betting.
But religious leaders recently lobbied President John Magufuli to ban betting altogether to control addiction among the youth.
Just this week, Kenya announced that licences for all betting agencies stand suspended as from July 1, and that their renewal will be subject to proof that the companies are tax compliant.
President Museveni recently directed the Ministry of Finance to stop licencing sports betting, gaming and gambling companies due to the negative effects the industry is having on the youth.
A recent GeoPoll rapid survey carried out among youth between the ages of 17 and35 in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa show that millennials in sub-Saharan Africa spend $50 monthly on betting through their mobile phones.
Source: Daily Monitor