Kenya Preps Fresh New Gambling Restrictions

Just when Kenya-facing gambling operators thought they could draw a breath of relief after the High Court struck down a set of proposed gambling ads restrictions, the government of the African nation came up with a comprehensive bill aiming to give the gambling industry a hard time.

Local news outlet The Star reported today that Gaming Bill 2019 was published earlier this week by Kenyan lawmakers and that the piece aims to introduce a number of restrictions in relation of how gambling products are provided on the territory of the country. In addition, the piece contains provisions that, if approved, will increase the fees licensed gaming and betting operators are required to pay.

Under the bill, Kenyan gamblers will be required to place a minimum bet of KES50 (approx. $0.50) in order to be able to participate in gambling activities. At present, local gamblers can place as little as KES1, which according to lawmakers encourages excessive gambling.

The piece also provides for an increase in the annual license fee operators are required to pay to KES30 million (approx. $296,120). Currently, locally licensed companies pay a KES1 million application fee, a KES3 million license fee, a KES500,000 annual license fee, and a KES25,000 license renewal fee.

In addition, operators pay a 35% tax on revenue and are required to contribute 20% of their revenue to a good cause. Under the recently introduced piece of legislation, companies that sponsor local sports clubs will receive tax rebates.

Combating Illegal Gambling

Gaming Bill 2019 also aims to purge the local gaming and betting space from illegal operations. The bill contains provisions concerning both land-based and online gambling activities. It looks to block Kenyans’ access to illegal gambling websites as well as to curb the overwhelming growth of the illegal gaming machines sector.

Another big concern that the bill addresses is the fact that a huge portion of the revenue generated benefits other countries and very little goes to Kenya’s coffers. According to independent sources, the country’s gambling market could be worth around KES200 million (approx. $2 billion). However, the government gets only a fraction of that amount due to the fact that the field is largely unregulated and companies oftentimes fail to declare their actual earnings.

The bill is set to have its first reading in the Kenyan government next week. If passed, it will replace the Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Act of 1966.

Earlier this week, the country’s High Court struck down proposals for a total ban on outdoor gambling ads as well as on the use of social media for gambling advertising purposes. Under the proposed restrictions, TV ads of gambling products would have only been allowed to air between 10 pm and 6am.

The High Court ruled that the proposed measures were “tainted with illegality, unreasonableness, and procedural impropriety.” These were to take effect on May 31.

Gaming Bill 2019 contains provisions under which gambling ads would be taxed as most of the revenue generated by the products advertised is currently allowed to leave the country and benefit foreign nationals.

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