Government approves reopening of gaming companies and wedding ceremonies as Covid-19 cases remain low | New times

More than a year after their closure due to the risk they posed to those who flocked to them, betting companies can now open their doors.

The decision was taken on Monday, May 31, at a Cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame in Urugwiro village.

The resolutions, signed by Prime Minister Eduoard Ngirente, indicate that gambling operators will gradually open and must observe strict preventive measures for Covid-19.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry will provide detailed safety instructions before operators can open their doors for business.

Before the pandemic, the sector was estimated to employ around 5,000 people and rent more than 800 premises across the country.

The green light comes at a time when frustrations over attempts to set up virtual platforms to keep betting businesses in business were at their peak.

Following the shutdown of physical operations in March of last year, companies were urged to go online to maintain jobs and service delivery.

Forte Bet chief executive Kamil Babic told the New Times last week that there was a need to create an active committee to enable the industry to grow, to weed out fraudulent operators while allowing operators to find ways to stay out of business. afloat during difficult times. like during the pandemic.

“At the moment, there isn’t much of a framework that pushes the industry beyond the gambling law of 2012. The lack of an advisory committee also means that investors in the industry are not in a position to to share their knowledge and business challenges with the regulator and, therefore, are not involved in consultations on the development of the sector, ”he said.

Managing Director of Baron Sports Gaming, which operates betting company Forzza, Eric Rutayisire, told the New Times that operators are ready to work with the regulator by incorporating their experience from other markets into the development of the sector for the align with future profitability and potential growth.

In 2018, the sector had revenues of 47 billion francs (compared to 6.9 in 2013) with taxes of over 1.8 billion francs (compared to 0.47 billion in 2013) paid in various government taxes.

Operators pay taxes at a rate of 13% on gross gaming revenue and a 15% withholding tax is applied on player earnings.

Other highlights from the Cabinet meeting

The Cabinet has also approved traditional weddings and related receptions which it says can resume with people up to 30 people.

However, if the ceremony takes place in an open garden, performance hall or hotel, guests should not exceed 30% of the capacity of the hall.

Guests will still be required to show negative Covid-19 test results.

Although the curfew in the rest of the country has remained between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., it is different in Karongi district where everyone must be inside between 7 p.m. and 4 a.m.

Cabinet will review the Covid-19 guidelines in 30 days.

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