Lotteries Board Gears Up Control Amid Growing Gambling
By Mouris Opolot
The Lotteries and Gaming Regulatory Board has asked for more legal backing and stakeholder coordination with respective bodies to ease monitoring of the gambling sector.
The call was made by Edgar Agaba, the Chief Executive Officer of the Board during the opening of the 2018 Betting and iGaming (BiG) East Africa summit held in Kampala Serena Hotel from April 10-11, 2018.
“I would like to encourage a continued partnership that will help improve the gaming sector for the benefit of both the operator and government,” he said.
The board licenses, supervises and regulates the establishment, management and operation of lotteries, gaming, betting and casinos to protect Ugandan citizens from adverse effects of gambling, an activity whose tax contribution to the treasury amounted to UGX 30 billion in financial year 2017/2018.
Key among the demands is the push for amendment of the Lotteries and Gaming Act in which the board has tabled the lotteries and gaming amendment bill 2018 through Ministry of Finance.
The draft amendment seeks to treat a minor as a person below 18 years, empower the Board to seize equipment or devices without recourse of courts of law, enter and search any premises without warrant and direct closure of any non-compliant gaming or betting premises.
Currently, the sophisticated technological nature of the gaming sector puts the regulatory board and Uganda Revenue Authority, the tax collector in a catch-22 situation.
Most observers have argued that the rate at which the gambling sector changes jostles the regulator’s capacity to curb wrongdoings among operators and punters which leads to tax evasion, cheating and irresponsible gambling.
However, hope is not lost. The board has partnered with the Financial Intelligence Authority, National Bureau of Standards and Immigrations to better regulate the gambling sector. It further intends to sign pacts with telecom providers since some gamblers use mobile and online access to betting sites.
“The standards committee of the National Gaming Board is reviewing the wagering record keeping software, monitoring control systems, tokenization, local area and wide area jackpot as well as information and operation security,” Agaba opined.
He noted that starting July 2018, there shall be testing and certification of gambling equipment in Uganda by BMM testlabs, the world’s most experienced private gaming testing laboratory.
A document City Television obtained indicates that the Lotteries and Gaming Regulatory Board hopes to contribute UGX 200 million worth of CSR in different activities. So far over UGX 90 million has been donated to developmental projects.
“We encourage operators to give more back to the communities in which they operate,” the document reads.
Regulatory Sanctions in Glimpse
- Unlicensed operation attracts permanent closure of premises and prosecution of directors while undisclosed equipment will be confiscated and branch license suspended.
- Non-compliance of advertisements and branding shall be cautioned on first instance and suspension of license on second instance.
- Repeated breach of licensing conditions leads to revocation of main license.