Kenya’s leading sports betting firm SportPesa is set to expand its operations to Uganda, just two months after opening office in Tanzania if talks between the Uganda government and the company are concluded successfully.
Uganda Minister for Youth and Children Affair, Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi has extended an invitation to SportPesa to go to Uganda for talks on how to set up their business in Kampala.
Kiyingi went to Dar Es Saalam Tanzania to watch Gor mahia take on English premier Leagueside Everton in an international friendly match organised by Sportpesa. She also went to personally extend an invitation to Sportpesa to set up camp in Kampala like they have done in Nairobi and Dar Es Saalam.
“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,” she said.
Just like in Kenya, the Uganda parliament recently passed a bill of 35% tax that is awaiting consent by the President. This she says is not to raise money for the Uganda government, but to demotivate people from going into irresponsible gambling and gaming. But this will not affect all players in the industry.
“So we are reversing the trend as the ministry responsible for young people. I have 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.”
This is why the government of Uganda is inviting Sportpesa to Kampala.
“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.
This looks like a blow to the gaming industry in Uganda as well because of the 35% tax on the profits of the gaming companies. But in the case of Sportpesa and anyone investing in Uganda sports, there is an exemption.
“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 down and dialogue,” explained Kiyingi.
Kiyingi says if Sportpesa was to put the same amount of investment in football like in Kenya and Tanzania, then Uganda football will grow in leaps and bounds because what Uganda lacks now is adequate 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.”
If Sportpesa land in Uganda it will take nine months before they start operations as per the regulations. All that might change as a delegation from Sportpesa head to Uganda this month for discussions with the Uganda government and if successful, they will meet with President Yoweri Museveni to fast track the process.
Kiyingi who is also the chairperson of Express Football club in Uganda is hopeful that all will be concluded successfully before planning starts for the next Sportpesa Super Cup to be played in Kenya in June of 2017.