KAMPALA: Details emerging indicate that top business gurus close to State House are behind plans to chase away foreign betting companies so that they remain in business alone. Some of the individuals we are told already run betting companies which are struggling and they think that by working to have those owned by foreigners exit the Ugandan market, theirs will absorb the rival’s clients.
According to our sources, some of the foreign sports betting companies targeted by the schemers are; Betin, Fortebet, Betway and BetPawa among others. The schemers forget that these companies employ Ugandans, pay taxes, pay for utilities, rent buildings owned by Ugandans as well as donating to charities through corporate social responsibility.
Our sources say the schemers who some have influence in state house are basing their plans on president Yoweri Museveni’s recent pronouncement that government was not interested in registering foreign owned sports betting companies anymore.
The president argued then that the foreign firms were taking most of the profits earned here in Uganda back to their home countries, which is provided for anyway in the country’s investment laws aimed at attracting foreign investors. But the companies targeted have played an important role in the economy of Uganda.
In accordance with Section 48 (1) of the Lotteries and Gaming Act 2016 all gaming operators are meant to remit 20 percent of the total amount of money staked less pay outs for the period of filing returns. According to Section 188c of the Income Tax Act as amended 2018 a person who makes payment for winnings of betting or gaming shall withhold tax on gross amount of payment at the standard rate of 15 percent.
The sector employs about 9500 (professionals and non-professionals) in various capacities like cashiers, branch managers, accountants, marketing agents/sales agents, security guards, chefs for casinos, cleaners and administration.
In the Kampala Metropolitan Area, ForteBet employs the most number of people (1282), followed by Kings sports betting employing 1100, Top bet employs 806, Goal sports betting employs 298, SBA bet 312 while others including casinos, bingo and small scale operators employ 2200.
For upcountry, Kings Sports Betting tops with 809 employees, ForteBet employs 585, Top bet 351, Goal Sports Betting 175 (now sold), SBA Bet 170 while the rest including casinos, bingo and small scale operators employ 871.
Various gaming operators are sponsoring different football clubs worth billions of shillings. For example Betway, an online gaming company sponsors Express FC to a tune of Shs400 million per year, and TopBet sponsors Mbarara City to a tune of Shs200 million.
It is also a requirement that operators carry out Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) among the communities they operate in. At the end of last financial year, a total of 800 million shillings of CSR was executed by operators ranging from medical support, school fees donations and charity drives among others.
The sector also supports other subsectors through payment of utilities like water, electricity, cable TV (DSTV), internet providers and telecom companies thus creating a positive ripple effect to the economy.