Kampala — Some 55 students from Makerere Business Institute (MBI) missed out on graduating after they reportedly invested their tuition money into gambling and sports betting, according to Nathan Twesigye, the principal of the institute.
Speaking at the 11th graduation ceremony on Friday, Twesigye said the vice is on the rise.
"As you can see, girls have also started gambling, which is quite strange," mused the principal, and added that many gambling and sports betting centres are being erected around students' institutions to lure them.
Indeed, with the lucrative nature of the sports betting business, most of the players in the market are stretching their reach every other day.
Information from the National Youth Council indicates that 26% of Uganda's 34 million population is between 18 and 35 years, and 54% is below 18 years. This is the section of the population arguably the most keen on sports - both local and international.
It is no secret that most of these young sports betters are mostly keen on the foreign leagues, and will spend more time working out strategic calculations on their betting tickets.
What should be worrying is that the practice is picking up interest like a wild bushfire.
Makerere University Chancellor, Prof. Mondo Kagonyera, at the graduation ceremony, said he was amazed to learn of the seriousness of the vice.
"I am in shock and at the same time angry that students are gambling away their parents' resources. I have seen signposts of betting houses but I did not know it was as serious as it is," he exclaimed.
He was even more worried that some have even gone as far as attempting suicide after gambling away their limited resources.
"If gambling houses are aiming at destroying the lives of our children, then Government should ban it [the practice] really," said the Chancellor.
In March this year, the gambling fraternity petitioned the Ministry of Trade and Industry over control standards in the sector.
In the petition, the fraternity expressed concern that computer programmes used in gambling were not up to the required standards.
They noted that the programmes were susceptible to manipulation by the owners, with the potential to give wrong results and exploit the public.
Prof. Kagonyera, also the guest-of-honor at the graduation, cautioned government to study the social, psychological and economical impact of gambling in the country.
"I do not know at what age gambling should be restricted to but government should carefully study gambling in the country because it is silently destroying the lives of the youth.
He awarded 1008 students with certificates and diplomas in accountancy, banking and finance, business management, information communication technology, purchasing and supplies management.
Other qualifications awarded were in secretarial studies, marketing, hotel and institutional catering, stores management and journalism.
The institution, which also marked 20 years in existence on the same day, opened up an ICT, radio and television studios.