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Sports betting faces scrutiny

Sports betting faces scrutiny

Sports betting, a recently introduced phenomena sweeping the country’s vast youth population, has recently come under criticism, which has forced the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth to announce the termination of such licenses.

In a press conference held on Thursday March 5, 2020, betting firms said the government needs to reconsider before taking a decision and lamented “betting is not gambling.”

“We are receiving a lot of negative comments from the community about sports betting.  But that is not true. We are legally licensed by the National Lottery and we are also obeying our social responsibility,” Vegas Sport Betting Executive Director, Yonas G. Alemu told The Reporter.

According to Yonas, the opening of these betting shops across the country, have created job opportunities for 1800 people and firms are paying millions of birr in tax.

However, many argue that betting is becoming a bad habit and addictive, that could cause psychological harm. Many individuals also oppose the sport betting shops since they are violating age restrictions.

The growing concerns and recent media criticisms has forced both betting firms and the government, to call a press conference. 22 betting firms have a legal license from the National Lottery Administration. Both have defended sports’ betting as being a legitimate business and the national lottery also agreed that “Betting is not Gambling.”

Nonetheless, both could not deny that some shops did not uphold some legal requirements such as age limits, with students being witnessed wearing school uniforms, in betting shops. The Ministry of Women Children and Youth is against sports’ betting in the country and a final decision on betting or the addition of procedural rules is expected.       

“We have licensed betting firms that fulfill legal requirements. We will evaluate their operations,” Tewedros Neway, head of communication with the National Lottery Administration told The Reporter.

Furthermore, Tewedros said: “We are receiving a lot of complaints about betting and we have formed a committee to assess the activities of betting shops. Hence, based on the outcomes of the assessment we will consider taking actions.”

The National Lottery is still keen on sport betting firms, as these shops have helped the administration rack-up revenues. It is said that some six million birr is generated from betting. 20 percent is said to be contributed to social donations and 15 percent lottery income tax is deductible from the winners.