Kenya proposes legislation to tighten control of sports betting operators

By Caroline Watson
Kenyan sports betting firms risk tighter controls if Parliament approves changes to the “Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Act”, with the proposed amendments imposing severe fines for non-compliant gambling operators.

The proposed legislation seeks to introduce marketing and advertising restrictions on Kenyan sports betting services. The act would ban the advertisement of competitions in which prizes are offered, forcing bettors to rely on phone applications and betting firms’ websites to place bets. This would prevent firms such as SportPesa, Betin, Betway among others, from advertising ahead of key local and international football matches.

Those who contravene the proposed laws will face fines ranging from KSh1m to KSh4m (7,500 - £35,000), or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months.

Orange Democratic MP, Jakoyo Midiwo who sponsors the bill says the proposed legislation will help to establish an authority to licence and regulate the activities of betting, lotteries and gaming firms.

Earlier this year, Mr Midiwo lost his proposal for MPs to establish a select committee to probe the activities of sports betting firms. Midiwo believed the committee was essential in aiding claims of tax evasion, financial impropriety, regulation and benefits of the industry to society and the State.

Nonetheless if the review of the proposed regulatory amendments works in Midiwo’s favour, the Kenya Betting Control and Licensing Authority will have the power to regulate and control the operation of betting and gaming and conduct of lotteries and prize competition.

Midiwo also suggests that the authority should have the power to vary, suspend or cancel of the licenses of non-compliant operators.

However, little is known as to whether Midiwo’s attempts at legislation reform will be supported and undertaken by the Kenyan Parliament.


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