By Nangayi Guyson in Kampala, Uganda
After making a tour around the capital Kampala on Sunday, on a building known as Mukwano Arcade before reaching the old Taxi Park, sits a crowd of people shouting at the top of their voices, persuading me to go there thinking that they are protesting since Kampala, the Ugandan capital, has for over a year now been now known as the ‘city of protests’.
However, when I come close, I discover it is a sporting betting place after reading their persuasive slogan “You Bet- we pay” on the sign post hanging in front of the entrance to the live sport betting center where you find people moving up and down with pens, papers and receipts in their hands.
It was around 10.30am when I entered this Central Business District, the whole place was full of people of various ages, backgrounds and religions but mostly with the youths taking the big number, their eyes glued on TV screens watching replays of different football teams. This is how I came to know it is a sports betting place known to be Sport Betting Africa (SBA) which has taken the market by storm around the African continent. It is not only Sport Betting Africa but others are royal sports betting, Kings Sports bet and so many others not mentioned here.
These companies are licensed to offer legal sports betting in Uganda since the government legalized the recreation of sports betting. In Uganda, like most other African countries, sports’ betting was traditionally illegal until recently when the government allowed it to operate following the footsteps of South Africa which also legalized it. It is now easier than ever to bet on sports from almost anywhere in the Capital city of Kampala.
A few years down the road, many betting companies are reaping big from the booming business but many Ugandans are becoming desperate. The Sports betting business which has become one of the lucrative businesses showcasing games and sports like the England Premiership, La Liga, FIFA and other major leagues in Europe where Ugandans have betted to earn big from it , many end up making losses instead of profits.
In this same place (Sports Betting Africa), is where I found many youths who have searched for jobs for years but end up not getting any. One of the youths who did not want his name to be mentioned said: “I am one of the Ugandan youths who are desperate and that is the reason why you can see many of us hanging in these sports betting places because it is the only cheapest way of survival and easy to get involved since it keeps someone’s hopes high.” He went on to add: “It is difficult here for someone to win a lot of money but we keep trying, hoping to win because of the news we hear of others winning. I once won sh400, 000 from a bet of sh2000 and I always hope I may win much more than that but luck determines how much you can walk away with.”