Barely two months after setting up in Tanzania, Kenya’s leading sports betting firm SportPesa is now all set to expand its operations to Uganda. This, if negotiations between the company and the Uganda government are successfully concluded.
Mrs. Florence Kiyingi, the Uganda Minister for Youth and Children Affairs is leading a Ugandan government delegation which arrived in Kenya, Wednesday evening. She has extended an invitation to SportPesa to Uganda on July 26 for talks on how the company may be able to set up shop in Kampala.
“We are here to start up the dialogue between Sportpesa and Uganda football to ensure that we participate in the East African League (The Sportpesa Super Cup) and also to ensure that SportPesa comes to Uganda to invest in the Uganda league,” Kiyingi, also the chairperson of the Ugandan Premier League giants Express FC stated.
Interestingly, the minister was recently in Dar Es Salaam attending the international friendly match between SportPesa Premier League side Gor Mahia and English Premier League club Everton FC.
Taxation on betting in Uganda
Similar to Kenya, the Ugandan parliament passed a bill taxing gaming companies. However, the difference being Uganda’s tax is 35% tax on profit while Kenya’s is a uniform 35% tax rate on all revenue.
The bill is now awaiting consent by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.
Kiyingi outlined that the law, if implemented in Uganda is to demotivate people from going into irresponsible gambling rather than seek to raise money for the Uganda government. However, it will not affect all players in the industry.
“So we’re reversing the trend as the ministry responsible for young people. I’ve made it a point to look for people to invest in sports, give the youth employment. We can achieve and reduce the interest in tax (for those investing in sports) so as to promote sports in general.”
“To me I take SportPesa to be an investor and not really a business person. So we want them to come down to Uganda and together we look at the regulation further,” she added.
Mrs. Florence Kiyingi, the Uganda Minister for Youth and Children Affairs also the chairperson of the Ugandan Premier League giants Express FC. Photo/COURTESY
Notably, the tax is also seen as a blow by the gaming industry in Uganda but in the case of SportPesa and anyone investing in Uganda sports, there will be an exception.
“We are going to look at SportPesa in isolation because it is coming with a heavy weight of promoting football; investing in academies, investing in young people, giving them employment. It is beyond betting, it is beyond gaming. So we are looking at the other side of investment and then we shall make sure that we sit down and dialogue,” Kiyingi revealed.
Kiyingi states that if SportPesa invests a similar magnitude in football to Kenya and Tanzania, then Uganda football will experience a massive growth as this will fill the gap of lack of sponsors in sports.
“The talent is there, the morale is there, the demand is overwhelming but what is missing is the capital injection in football in general and branding.”
As per regulations, it will take up to 9 months to set up and start operations if SportPesa lands in Uganda. Though this might be different because of the delegation from SportPesa heading to Uganda for discussions with the government. Their success could fast track the process.