Lawmakers in Uganda are pushing for a change many sports betting enthusiasts won’t be happy with.
According to local news reports, lawmakers are pushing for part-time operations for retail and online bookmakers. Those pushing for the change have proposed that betting should be restricted to 5 pm to 2 am daily.
This suggestion had been tabled before the Lotteries and Gaming Regulation Board (LGRB) by committee member Enos Asiimwe. The member seems to be focused on instituting the time limit so that the youth spend their daily hours more productive.
Not Without Pitfalls
Such a change would have severe consequences for betting in Uganda.
The suggestion is riddled with flaws. According to lawmaker Jane Pacutho, placing a limit on the allowable hours will have the opposite effect on the genuine intention. Instead of limiting public interest in betting, it will only intensify it.
Pacutho also pointed out that such a change will bring other social complications. This includes bettors spending their time in the evenings betting instead of with their families.
Time Zones a Huge Problem
Another major challenge for the implication of such a time limit is the difference in international time zones. For example, Uganda is seven hours behind Australia and many hours ahead of New York. This will make betting on most international games to be impractical.
Bettors could certainly place their wagers in advance to side-step the time limits. However, many bets will suffer due to the impact such a timeframe would have on odds and payouts.
But perhaps the most significant challenge will be enforcing the new regulations. Since most bets take place online (up to 60%), it would prove a monumental challenge to try and limit international sportsbooks to only certain hours during the day.
Plans to Press Forward
Despite the many challenges, the LGRB has undoubtedly not completely ignored the latest suggestions.
This formed part of the regulator’s budget plan recently tabled before the Committee of Finance. The LGRB put in a request for an additional US$567,000 in funding. Funding it says it plans to use to implement a system that would electronically monitor betting timeslots.
According to LGRB chief executive officer Denis Ngabirano, implementing such a system would generate more money for the government. Plus, it would help manage and limit the effects of money laundering.
Ngabirano also stressed that the implementation of time limits is just one of the changes the commission is hoping to put into place. They aim to increase gaming and betting regulations while bringing about a reduction in irregularities and illegal activities.
Failed Gambling Ban
Uganda’s betting industry has been in the news for several reasons recently.
The country recently planned to ban sports betting and online gaming outright – but unsuccessfully so.
In 2017, regulators also attempted to increase the tax on gaming operators to 35%. However, they were eventually forced to settle for a meagre 15%.