Last week, Amne Suedi(Principal of Shikana Law Group) was delighted to attend the Sports Betting East Africa Forum on April 9, 2019 organized by Eventus International in Kampala Uganda. She was invited to speak on licensing requirements and the future of regulations in East Africa. After the successful panel, she was appointed to be part of the task force with East Africa Community Member States Gaming Regulators and betting associations in the EAC to commence the task of harmonizing the gaming legislations.
The following are the brief summary of the points that she put forward.
- Countries in East Africa must introduce “responsible advertisement” and this goes hand in hand with responsible gaming. In the East Africa markets so far, there is no jurisdiction that has comprehensive regulations about advertisement, and this is a problem because operators are abusing of this fact. In Tanzania, the regulator has had to suspend advertisement on local TV and Radios because of this abuse and is reassessing and reevaluating the type of standards that should be in place.
- At the application stage of the licensing, responsible gaming needs to be at the forefront. The applicants must show how their investment is going to be responsible and there needs to be genuine effort from operators to be responsible. The Gaming Boards also need to demand it by making it an integral part of the licensing procedure and also concretely legislating on responsible gaming and defining the standards. Investors must move away from the narrative that paying taxes and creating employment is being responsible. This is an outdated approach and is no longer being accepted by authorities in these markets since they want to see real impact of the investment and they want companies to demonstrate responsible gaming.
- There is going to be legislation to protect data that is more comprehensive than what most jurisdictions have. In Tanzania, there is no data protection law per se, but there are provisions regarding confidentiality and privacy that are dispersed across different legislations. The regulators need to think of how to protect the players data and what kind of obligations the operators must have in order to protect consumers and their data when they are playing these games.
- It is recommended that the Gaming Boards harmonize their rules and I think that the regulators will stand to benefit from this. Currently, no one operator only invests in one market. Gaming companies that find themselves in Kenya, will also roll out their investment in Uganda and Tanzania. However, the reality now is that you can spend one year waiting for the license in Tanzania and complying with the conditions to get the license. Companies then cross the border to Uganda or Kenya and they have to follow new procedures with new timelines and costs. It would be more cost and time efficient if there was a more centralized system for licensing for all the countries and also that the rules are harmonized. This will make the regional bloc more attractive for investment. If there is better harmonization of processes and licenses, it will also reduce the cost for investigations and the gaming boards will have better control on the caliber of the investments that they are allowing in the region as well.
- Gaming Boards need to educate the Investment Promotion Agencies and Investment Centers that gaming operators are investors too and that they should be able to benefit from the investment incentives that other companies investing benefit from. There is a taboo around gaming however, it is unfair that the investors are penalized particularly since in order to qualify for the investment incentives you need to show investment capital of at least USD 500,000 in Tanzania for example and that is the amount that is required for foreign investors investing in gaming in Tanzania anyway.