Montreal company lets Ugandans turn cell phones into slot machines

We’ve been giving plenty of coverage to the good work that cell phones are doing to improve the lives of Kenyans. Banking, sending money, even sexual health have all been helped thanks to the cell phone.

But now let’s turn to a country where cell phones aren’t doing such good things. Thanks to a Canadian company, Ugandan citizens will now be able to play the lottery any time of day on their cell phones. Amaya Gaming Corp., of Montreal, has announced in a press release that they will be giving the poverty-stricken nation the opportunity to their gamble money away with the push of a button in partnership with Uganda Games and Cash.

It’s called an SMS lottery; users send an SMS text message with specific keywords or their numbers to a shortcode, or a specially designated phone number, within a time frame. When the time frame ends, a user is selected at random as the winner and an SMS is sent to all the participants announcing the result.

And, of course, Amaya gets a cut of the winnings.

When you think about it, Uganda must be the perfect place to set up a business like this. After all, Uganda has plenty of impoverished, desperate, under-educated people — and who does more gambling than the impoverished, the desperate and the under-educated?

I’m not so naive as to suggest that Amaya is bringing gambling to a land untouched by the stuff or that if they don’t provide UGC with this technology then UGC won’t just go elsewhere to get it. I’m just saying that some corporations have different ethical standards than others, and it seems like Amaya has very different ethical standards.