By Steven Candia, Vivian Agaba & Simon Masaba
Police have continued with their clamp down on illegal sports betting and gaming houses, closing 18 more, among them Gaming International, one of the biggest betting companies in the country.
The police sustained the heat on day two of the operation Wednesday as numerous sports betting and gaming houses that were not compliant, shaken by the events of the first day of the operation, rushed to clear with ministry of finance on Wednesday.
However, attempts to close Pyramids Casino on Yusuf Lule road, said to have been operating on an expired license until Tuesday proved tricky as the management put up resistance, arguing that they have an ongoing case against the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).
In the process numerous phone calls were made, prompting the intervention of Edwin Karugire, their lawyer and Bob Kabonero and several top officials from URA.
Matters were laid to rest reportedly with the intervention of the URA Commissioner General. Pyramids Casino and Kampala Casino operate under the company Audely Limited.
“They have got no clearance from URA but we have now got confirmation from the Commissioner General URA that they (Pyramids) have made a move and clearance will be issued Thursday,” James Mpairwe, the Board Secretary National Lotteries Board (NLB) said at the scene.
Of the 18 nine were closed by Kira division, eight by Jinja Road, Mukono, Wandegeya and Kawempe police stations and one by Old Kampala Police Station, criminal investigation and intelligence directorate (CIID) boss Grace Akullo said.
The operation is jointly being carried out by the police and the ministry of finance under which NLB falls. On the team to enforce the closure are Akullo, Kampala South CID boss Mark Odongo and Mpairwe.
First to feel the brunt on Wednesday was Gaming International whose owners seemed to have been tipped or alerted by the events of the previous day.
By the time the police stormed their head offices on Nalubwama Arcade on Ben Kiwanuka street, they found the offices padlocked with notices pinned, informing their clients that they would remain closed, promising to reopen Thursday.
The police then added seals to the locks, warning that any attempt to break them constituted an offence. They then proceeded to close Wolf Sports Betting located on City Hall building in the city centre.
In Katwe, police also did the same to another branch of Gaming International and another nameless betting house.
However, the Jinja Road CID boss Ronald Bogere said a total of 39 sports betting houses had paid up following the Tuesday crack down on illegal entities.
“The National Lotteries Board has sent us a list of thirty-nine sports betting house owners who have paid their dues following closure of some of them that were operating illegally,” Bogere said.