Uganda to hike taxes on gambling.

By Judy Maina,

Nairobi Kenya- Uganda’s security is really threatened after mushrooming of sports betting houses which are encouraging many with lower incomes to steal to earn money and gamble. A Ugandan official has said.

Uganda People’s Defence Forces’ Commander of Land Forces from Uganda, Maj. Gen. Peter Elwelu, said that betting is threatening the public security of the country.

“I wonder why government introduced betting to poor people. It is a game of the rich. A poor person is very dangerous. He can do anything to survive. We need to support projects such as Operation Wealth Creation and others that focus on the socio-economic development of this country,” said the Elwelu to AllAfrica.

Uganda’s Revenue Authority (URA) agreed with him and said that a better taxation would help regulate gambling better than setting a prohibition.

In 2012, gambling was named a “new driver of chronic poverty” among young people in the country by Action Aid International Uganda, Development Research and Training, and the NGO Board of Uganda, which reported, “Many youth are abandoning participating in productive activities for gambling, especially sports betting.”

Gambling earns the government almost $5 million a year in taxes. That may not sound like much, but about 40 percent of Uganda’s population lives on less than $1.25 per day. In addition, there are countless illegal betting establishments throughout the country paying no taxes on what they make.

The Ministry of Finance proposed last week the amendment of the Income Tax Act in order to separate the gambling tax burden among operators and gamblers. A new rate would set gambling winnings of 15 percent and operators would experience a 20 percent reduction on their taxes. The bill says: “A person who makes payments for winnings of sports betting or pool betting shall withhold tax on the gross amount of the payment, at the rate prescribed in Part X of the Third Schedule to this Act.”

Uganda is set to launch counseling services this year, as well as a responsible gambling program. Last year, Uganda banned slot machines stating that they were corrupting youth and women.

According to Uganda’s National Lotteries Board, there are more than 1,000 registered gambling centers in Uganda owned by fewer than 50 registered gaming firms. Their casinos, lottery houses, pool clubs, and sport betting halls run around the clock, drawing in hundreds of thousands of people each day.

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