Ugandans defy hard times to bet Shs2 trillion in six months

Many youth now consider sports betting as a source of income. Photo / File 

What you need to know:

  • The Shs2.1 trillion is almost equal to the Shs2.4 trillion that National Gaming and Lotteries Regulatory Board says was gambled in the 2022/23 financial year

Ugandans wagered at least Shs2.1 trillion in sports and related bets in the halfway year to 2023, according to the National Gaming and Lotteries Regulatory Board.
The amount is almost equal to the Shs2.4 trillion that the National Gaming and Lotteries Regulatory Board says was gambled in the 2022/23 financial year, and could double by the end of the current financial year in June. 

Speaking in an interview in Kampala at the weekend, Mr Denis Ngabirano, the National Lotteries and Gaming Regulatory Board acting chief executive officer, told Monitor that the gaming and betting industry had grown both in turnover and tax contribution due to increased compliance and licensing.

The growth, he said, had also boosted tax revenue, which in the 2022/23 financial year had almost tripled, growing by an average of 25.3 percent in the last four financial years from the 2019/20 financial year.     

“In terms of the monies staked or turnover, last financial year Ugandans staked Shs2.4 trillion. That was the total amount. In this first half of the current financial year, we have a total of Shs2.1 trillion. We are seeing an increase in turnover, and also a tax increase. This is a result of our dedicated compliance activities with URA,” he said. 

However, Mr Ngabirano did not indicate how much betting, gaming, and lotteries companies paid out against successful bets. 

Betting and gaming has been growing, boosted by a rise in viewership of different sports activities in the last two decades. 

The growth, Mr Ngabirano said has also largely been due to an increase in the number of licensed betting and gaming houses, which currently stand at 45 companies. 

During the 2022/23 financial year, according to the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) Annual Data Book published last week, government is increasingly profiting from betting and gaming, doubling projected revenue for the financial year ended June 2023. 

During the period, URA data indicates, government earned Shs75b as taxable revenue from betting, which was 46.9 percent above the ShsShs35.2b target, and substantially above the Shs19b earned in the 2019/20 financial year. 

The growth has also been boosted by a shift in betting and gambling technology, with many companies establishing 24-hour online gaming and betting sites. 

Gaming is subjected to a 30 percent tax on the promoter’s turnover, while winning bets are subjected to a 15 percent withholding tax, in addition to a 20 percent tax levied on the promoter’s winning tickets. 

Government uses taxes, together with stringent liquidity requirements to control betting, given its social impact. 

However, some analysts have blamed the various taxes levied on betting for the exit of various companies in the last 10 years, among which include Sports Betting Africa, 1xBet, and Pulsebet.