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There’s a fairly well-developed gambling industry in Uganda. Specifically, sports betting has grown in popularity as a means for individuals to stake bets on their soccer teams or make some extra money on the side. As Internet access increases in reach across the country, online gambling has also become popular, although it comes with social ramifications for this third world nation’s development.

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Gambling is quite popular in Uganda, especially sports betting. In this country, there are several licensed and many foreign sites have targeted the market here too. The nonstop growth of overseas players despite the government’s lack attention on them has made them become a dangerous competitor for these approved ones.

There are a few operators who stand out as key players in this space, in regulated form. EliteBet and Worldstar Betting are some of the major players too with Betin, SBA Uganda, and ABA Bet being other big names in the industry. Many of these companies are also regional powerhouses: in particular, Africa’s largest bookmakers, Worldstar has dozens of land-based shops across the country.

Payment Options

Mobile payments are the preferred deposit method for African sports betting. This eases the concern over unbanked customers as payment is directly billed to their mobile phones, which is a traditional financial instrument that would have excluded many Ugandans from participating on such sites.

Depositing money by using this mode of deposit usually needs to be connected with a participating mobile provider account.

Several of the major telecom companies in Uganda are MTN, Airtel, Orange and UTL. You can transfer money to a bookmaker instantly by using their mobile money bill paying feature and your phone. Sometimes withdrawals can also be processed back to the telephone account.

The spread of live betting firms particularly in Kampala has made it possible for Worldstar to accept cash deposits in such places. Additionally, foreign sites may have other options that are commonly used globally including credit cards, e-wallet solutions, bank transfers or prepaid products. Even if not all these will be supported here, they could offer more choices to some players.

In Uganda, the universally loved game is football and this is why it is unsurprising that it is also the most gambled-on sport by Ugandan citizens. Whether it’s local or national team games, competitions from Europe, there are always matches for punters to wager on and individuals who want to put bets on their favourite teams at any given time.

That is not implying that other sports are not popular as well in the country. Basketball has been gaining fame lately in the country and international gambling on tennis, volleyball, cricket as well as rugby is also very common. North American sports like baseball and American football also get a fair amount of attention and larger sites offer plenty of exotics including emerging markets like e-sports. The argument here is that there are many other popular games such as basketball which have also gained popularity among the Kenyan people recently and tennis, volleyball, cricket, and rugby on which international betting takes place. There is also some interest in North American sports such as baseball and football while larger websites are known for their abundant exotic wagers including new markets like e-sports.

Flag of Uganda

Gambling Laws

The Republic of Uganda is itself a landlocked country and one of the largest in the world, situated on the North West shores of Lake Victoria in East Africa. It has been one of the poorest countries in the world although it has experienced economic growth at a fast rate especially its capital city Kampala which has not been matched by any other Ugandan rural places with its large populations. The most common knowledge about this country among the foreigners is about Idi Amin’s dictatorship reign while presently being ruled as a republic but under one head since 1986, who is President Yoweri Museveni.

In the 1960s, Ugandan authorities made an attempt to regulate gambling, a period in which most of the African states including Uganda were striving to control betting and make their earnings from casinos and lotteries.

The National Lotteries Act of 1967 was a crucial move, as was the Gaming and Pool Betting Act of 1968 in forming the basis of gaming laws in this country until today.

However, it is important to understand that this has mostly been more of a loose framework at best for most of the time since then. This led to two major problems. First, there were too many operators in general who focused on those members of society who can hardly lead their normal life not to mention making bets. Furthermore, controlling expansion of illegal shops was difficult creating even less regulated facilities than licensed ones without paying taxes to the government whatsoever.

In 2013, these issues started to be addressed, and the fees that gaming companies had to pay for a license were increased from about $1,500 to Kshs.350,000. Moreover, National Lotteries Board also took measures to limit where gambling outlets could be located so as not to allow them near churches, schools, markets and other public places.

As things stand, most kinds of international gambling are free here. Casinos, bookies, poker, lotteries and bingo are all part of the package (though the lottery is only possible through a nationally state-run draw). In addition, online gambling is legalised and controlled in which some land-based operators also maintain iGaming licences for the same games they offer at their stationary gaming venues.

Land-Based Gambling

Despite the lack of wealth in this country, land-based gaming is amazingly popular in Uganda. Nonetheless, the industry starts to make more sense when you figure out that it is predominantly found in Kampala, which is relatively cosmopolitan; a capital city and where inhabitants earn more compared to rest of the nation.

All the full-size casinos of Uganda are found in that city. In fact, some of the biggest ones are very luxurious and they serve both high-class Ugandans and foreigners who come to town for different reasons; either business or just tourism.

For example, there are many table games and slots available at this resort casino in Kampala. At the same time, it can be called a traditional resort because of its restaurants as well as other facilities. Another popular place is the Pyramids Casino which belongs to the same company. Mayfair Kampala also has 25 slot machines and provides complimentary food and drinks for players on 16 tables.

For the average Ugandan, a trip to the nearest betting shop is more common, where they encounter similar bookmaking options like those found in online sites.

As a result, here is where many foreign companies have established themselves, given that this nation has over 70 gambling firms registered. Even though they are all over the place again, it is notable that most of them are in the capital city where such shops offer free internet and other amenities to draw punters.


Although information about gaming taxation in Uganda is not readily available, there is evidence to suggest that individuals are taxed on their winnings through withholding at the time of collecting prizes. This holds true at least for sports betting because a 15% withholding tax was introduced in the budget of 2014/2015.

Certainly, taxes are paid by the gambling operators just as in any licensing. This is quite a large sum of money considering that majority of Kenyans earn less than 2 dollars a day and it is also prudent to understand Kenyan tax system. However, this figure would probably be much higher if there were no such many illegal bookies that operate as often or even more frequently compared to licensed ones.

The Future

It is unlikely that sports betting and other forms of gambling will disappear from Uganda soon; even those against it have accepted the fact that it is here to stay. Nonetheless, some headway seems to be occurring towards smarter regulation of a sector that might require some checks for the sake of Uganda as a whole – and possibly for the endurance of the industry itself in years to come.

Problems that must be solved are myriad. It is usually the poorest residents in any society who suffer most from gambling; consider this as a national issue where the majority cannot afford to gamble, and it becomes plain why many take ubiquitous opportunities for betting as a serious social problem. For various reasons, from poverty to violence associated with gaming, some local municipalities have prohibited sports books and many others want better controls that ensure licensed online venues can operate in this country.

Additionally, President Yoweri Museveni has thrown out hints that point to prospects of him supporting attempts geared towards tightening the grip on regulations governing the gambling industry. In December 2016, Museveni’s speech implied that unless the government dealt with concerns like gambling and home-made alcohol, Ugandans would forever endure high poverty levels.

Even with the absence of governmental interference, we also anticipate that Ugandan players will behave the same way as other gamblers around the world when it comes to migration to mobile betting. However, as access to the Internet is limited in Uganda, there is still hope that this will change with time, given that mobile phones are becoming increasingly available. Together with banking that is centred on mobile phones, this factor should have the same effect and draw more people towards online gambling in future.

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