Ethiopia Youth Ministry seeks to ban sports betting

Ethiopia’s Ministry of Women and Social Affairs has outlined its support for a blanket ban on sports betting to protect the nation’s youth and avoid an ‘economic and social crisis’. 

FANA – Ethiopia’s state broadcaster reported that Abebe Haymanot, a representative of the Ministry focused on ‘Youth Development’ had notified “that work was underway to get sports betting banned”.

Haymanot claimed that the Ministry carried the support of “various movements and discussion platforms” that seek to stop the “degradation of sports”.  

The Ministry outlined that it had conducted a series of surveys that highlighted the threat sports betting posed to Ethiopia’s youth, including “reducing productivity and causing psychological problems such as anxiety, depression and suicide”.

At the start of year the Ministry had led calls for the government to impose a ban on sports betting. They were ultimately thwarted by local betting operators who argued that “betting is not gambling”.

Supporting an outright ban, the Ministry pointed to its investigation into betting shops that had flouted age restriction rules, citing that “students donning their school uniform have been spotted in betting dens”.

“The Ministry has suggested that the addition of procedural rules be enacted or betting be banned outright.”

Despite enforcing new rules on licensing and tax in 2020, the Ministry claimed that gambling regulator National Lottery Administration (NLA) did not have the resources to police Ethiopia’s betting shops.

Legislative changes in 2020, saw the NLA ordered to separate sports betting from lottery licensing, as betting firms were ordered to secure individual licences.   

The NLA responded to criticism of its inaction, stating that it had achieved its policy objectives of licensing Ethiopian bookmakers and ensuring that operators pay a 15% tax on monthly winnings and a 0.5% contribution allocated towards social welfare contributions.

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