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The 2019 Kenyan Gambling Bill

Kenya

Kenya’s betting industry has seen a huge influx of betting firms, which, from the government’s point of view, have not been paying up their fair share of what belongs to Caesar.

The betting industry is highly unregulated more so in these modern times where placing a bet is so easy one simply needs a smartphone and a mobile money account. This has seen an increase in the betting addiction amongst the youth who end up borrowing heavily in order to feed their addiction. In the end, Kenyan youths are unable to pay the loans and end up blacklisted.

Kenya’s gambling bill of 2019 was introduced to replace the Betting Lotteries and Gaming act. The new bill was aimed at imposing stringent measures and to bring Online Casinos in Kenya under control. Or simply put it was an attempt by the government to take control of the country’s growing gambling industry.

The 2018 Act that was in place prior called for the establishment of a Betting Control and Licensing Board that was tasked with issuing licenses and permits based on established regulations. It could also investigate complaints against existing licensees.

The Gaming Act 2018 further discussed control and licensing of betting where it defines offences relating to unlicensed betting premises. What’s more, the Act sought to grant approval before betting firms can place advertisements in the media. Also, the Gaming Act sought to ban the selling of alcohol in licensed premises and much more.

This bill had a number of loopholes which the gaming operators were taking advantage of to maximise their profits. The biggest complaint of the BCLB was in that the gaming operators were not collecting a winning tax from their customers thus the gaming regulator was losing out big on significant income.

Betting operators in Kenya were paying a licensing fee of Ksh 3 Million plus 500k per year.

With the introduction of the 2019 bill, some new restrictions came into play as some major changes were rolled out. Chief of them was a monitoring system in real-time to enable the regulator to keep tabs on all operators and make sure they pay up their full taxes by the deadline.

The same monitoring system enables the regulator to monitor individual betting and make note of players showing signs of problem gambling or addiction and ensure they get the help they need.

The new act also calls for restrictions on mobile betting which is seen as the main source of gambling in the country.

The new Act is still inline with proposals stated in 2018’s one, it merely introduced further clauses to guard against betting craze and addiction. When the Bill was made public last year it was furnished with measures that should theoretically regulate the industry based on increased license fees for betting firms and the amount of money for placing a stake.

The 2019 Act introduced the following proposals:

  • The Bill tasks betting companies to pay KES 100 million for gaming securities in case gamblers win large amounts of money and the firms ‘refuse’ to compensate them.
  • The minimum betting amount should be KES 50. This is slightly higher than a base minimum of KES 20 that some betting sites offer. This development should effectively weed out some people who place low-budget bets.
  • The Act intends to limit access to foreign betting sites in order to retain proceeds in Kenya.
  • The Bill proposes a 30 per cent stake for Kenyans for all external betting firms operating in the state.
  • Besides the Betting Control and Licensing Board proposed in the 2018 Bill, the 2019 version seeks to establish of The National Gambling Authority, The National Lottery Trust Fund and the Gaming Appeals Tribunal.
  • The Bill targets to limit the use of electronic means to broadcast betting messages. This would mean that adverts on telecoms platforms will be slapped with additional taxes to curb visibility.
  • A real-time system will be established to introduce some form of transparency for betting firms for full tax compliance should the bill be approved.