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Govt proposes squeezing more funds out of betting companies to fund NRM activities

Betty Kasimbazi, the undersecretary at the Ministry of Finance, did not bat her eyelids as she made the bizarre proposal during a meeting with MPs on the Finance Committee where she had accompanied officials from the Lotteries and Gaming Regulatory Board to present their 2019/2020 ministerial policy statement.

NATIONAL | A senior technocrat at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning has proposed that betting companies be squeezed for more taxes that would go not into public coffers but toward the running of the ruling National Resistance Movement party activities.

Betty Kasimbazi, the undersecretary at the Ministry of Finance, did not bat her eyelids as she made the bizarre proposal during a meeting with MPs on the Finance Committee where she had accompanied officials from the Lotteries and Gaming Regulatory Board to present their 2019/2020 ministerial policy statement.

“If we could regulate the industry, it is beneficial in South Africa, it funds the African National Congress (ANC), I am sure it would fund the NRM, they use the money for party purposes,” Kasimbazi said.

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This news website could not independently verify whether the South African ruling party generates funds from regulating betting activities, but Kasimbazi left no doubt that she was speaking from a well informed position when citing the cases around the world.

Countries such as South Africa, Australia, Canada and the US, she said, make a lot of money from betting and said the said nations have been in position to reap big because they have controlled systems.

The undersecretary said that Uganda needs to borrow a leaf from countries where they have put up strict rules to ensure casinos are placed strictly in hotels and have pool tables located inside bars instead of being everywhere like the case is in Uganda.

“That is why we have a problem; betting should be in controlled areas. I think it is a problem of regulation,” Kasimbazi said.

“In Britain, it is a very big industry especially for the old, they do it online so it doesn’t take anybody’s time and win big money. It is an industry like any other, but it needs a lot of regulation.”

Edgar Agaba, chief executive of Gaming and Lotteries Regulatory Board, argued that even if the law limiting the age of betting was raised to 25 years, there are still limits with regulations where cases of people who aren’t 25 and above are seen betting.

He said there was need to find a way to regulate and stream line the gaming industry in this country.

“We have been challenged in court that how comes a person who is 18 years can be president but cannot bet. So there is a court case regarding that, there is a court injunction, we can’t enforce the age of 25 years,” he said.

“The matter is before the constitutional court, for constitutional interpretation whether an 18year old cannot participate in betting yet can participate in a contract.”

The Board had projected to collect Shs45Bn revenues and by December Shs22 billion had collected and upon the conclusion of the procurement process for Central monitoring system, the Board anticipates that the full implementation of the process will see the revenue collections increase to Shs70 billion.

He also announced plans to amend the legislation that seeks to reduce the number of shops, signage and advertising and the opening hours.

Among the activities to be undertaken in the 2019/2020 Financial Year, the Board is seeking to develope an Engage, Educate and Enforce campaign that is to be implemented every year through sensitizing different stakeholders including district leaders and law enforcement agencies across the country and this will require Shs338M.

The Board also plans to establish and maintain a National Central Electronic Monitoring System that will help to detect age gaming, addiction, money laundering and monitor revenues and the equipment is expected to cost Shs10.5Bn payable in three installments.

Also the Board intends to carry out countrywide inspection and monitoring operations of gaming premises on quarterly basis and prepare inspection reports, license qualifying applicants among others at Shs585 million.

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