Uganda’s youth are addicted to gambling on English soccer, now the government wants to crack down
Paul Wasswa has been sat at the counter for seven hours, his eyes darting between a virtual roulette screen above and betting slips in front. The university student hopes his Saturday spent in one of Kampala’s many betting outlets brings big rewards.
“This is my work. I wake up early and I just come to betting, it is enjoyable,” the 25-year-old says. “The betting helps me pay my tuition fees and next month I will go back to school.”
Wasswa is among millions of Ugandans gripped by gambling. But it wasn’t always so.
While betting on people playing pool and games of Ludo, for example, have long been popular activities in almost every Ugandan town it was the emergence of casino operators and creation of a national lottery in 2004 which saw betting’s appeal rocket, according to locals.
Back in 2007, Sports Betting Africa opened the first licensed sports betting outlet in the country, capitalizing on the rising popularity of the top soccer markets such as the English Premier League. There are now more than 200 such betting shops, with a recent report estimating 150 billion Ugandan shillings ($42 million) is now spent on gambling annually.