• The government plans to ban advertising on social media platforms for betting firms, as well as bans on outdoor advertising of gambling and advertising of the same between 6am and 10pm.
• As of 2019, mobile money services are accepted by gaming operators as an authorized means of payment. This is very significant since Kenya has about 58 million mobile money subscribers.
Gambling as an activity is not only legal in Kenya, but this country was one of the first in Africa to legalize all forms of betting and casino games – almost 60 years ago! Gambling was legalized with the 1966 Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Act, but it has really taken off in recent years.
Kenya is home to 45 million residents and it has one of the most advanced economies on the continent. Still, this is a very poor country in which nearly 20 per cent of the population lives on less than $1.25 per day.
The law already prohibits gambling for individuals younger than 18 (and you can not buy a lottery ticket if you are not at least 16 years old). But the government announced that it will soon enact new laws that will further try to protect their citizens in this respect, especially the younger ones.
The new Gambling Act 2020
However, it is important to note that according to announcements, under the new Gambling Act of 2020 gambling will remain legal. Also, the betting tax will not change, but there will be a new 35 per cent tax on gaming advertisements. Tax on jackpot winnings will remain at 20 per cent as it is now, and the gambling license for online gambling will rise to one hundred million shillings (around 900.000 EUR) and fifty million shillings for land-based casinos.
The government plans to ban advertising on social media platforms for betting firms, as well as bans on outdoor advertising of gambling and advertising of the same between 6am and 10pm. On this issue, the Betting Control and Licensing Board announced in their statement that:
“It has further been decided that any form of advertisement of gambling must be approved by the board and such an advertisement must contain a warning message about the consequences of gambling including its addictiveness and that the warning message must constitute a third of the actual advertisement and be of the same font”.
Also, celebrities will not be allowed to endorse gambling activities. This will bring an end to the involvement of former football stars like McDonald Mariga and Dennis Oliech in betting advertisements.
Online gambling is also legal in Kenya. Until recently online gambling was a state monopoly run by the company Betkenya.com. This company has ceased operating, and while betting regulations allow online casino gambling, there is simply no operator that will offer slot machines in Kenya for example.
But, as there are so many foreign online gambling sites out there, they offer many options for Kenyan players. The government does not block sites that take bets from Kenyan players, in fact, it has recently begun to issue licenses to online betting sites. There are so many online casinos and sports betting sites that it might be difficult to choose the right one. Fortunately, there are useful lists available that can help navigate some of the better options out there.
All of the already mentioned actions by the government are a continuation of earlier efforts in this respect. In the past, the government had already warned about the negative effects of uncontrolled gambling in the country and blamed excessive gambling for the rise in incidents of violence.
National Gaming Authority
The new law will replace the Betting and Licensing Control Board with a new regulatory authority, the National Gaming Authority, as well as establish the Gaming Appeals Tribunal which would adjudicate in gambling-related disputes.
In 2018, gambling taxes were raised to 35 per cent and then reduced again to 15 per cent. The new bill will keep the 15 per cent tax rate and, so far, there is no mention of the 20 per cent tax imposed on player winnings in 2018.
Since there are, as we already mentioned, growing concerns about Kenyans developing negative gambling habits, this new law will set the minimum betting amount to Sg50 in an effort to dissuade minors from gambling. Also, all foreign operators will be required to establish a physical presence and base servers in the country.
As of 2019, mobile money services are accepted by gaming operators as an authorized means of payment. This is very significant since Kenya has about 58 million mobile money subscribers. That is 4 million more than the entire population of Kenya! As a consequence of this, Kenya’s gambling market is very much dominated by sports betting on mobile phones.
The new bill also proposes the establishment of the first-ever Kenyan national lottery system. The operator would be decided through a tender process, and the successful bidder will be granted a seven-year operating license. Lottery winners can expect to receive 45 per cent of all revenue, with a further 20 per cent to be used to meet the lottery’s administrative costs, and the final 20 per cent to be distributed to the lottery’s agents and retailers. Money raised in such a way will be used for different causes and it will be distributed by the National Lottery Trust Fund.