Kenya Gaming Act 2019 Seeks to Introduce Steep Taxes, More Regulatory Bodies and Reduced Online Visibility

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Betting
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The Gaming Act 2018 was introduced to police the betting industry that has since seen massive growth over the last couple of years. It has been determined that the industry is unregulated, and while betting laws have been in place since 1960s, they have failed to meet their mandate, especially in modern forms that have made placing a bet is as easy as having a smartphone and a mobile money account.

The industry has also seen an influx of betting firms, which, according to the government, have not been remitting their fair share of tax, and are largely responsible for sports betting addiction especially for the youth. The government further says that millions of young Kenyans have resorted to online borrowing to feed their betting addiction, and the outcome of the entire process has seen them being listed by the credit bureau for defaulting loans.

This is not the first time the government is unleashing its powers to tame betting: in the past, it has, although unsuccessfully, tried to place astronomical taxes on betting firms, and at one time, it threatened to cease renewing the firms’ licenses. The announcement saw popular betting companies such as SportPesa withdraw their sponsorship for a handful of local sports teams, a move that was widely criticized.



To this end, the government has been forced to repeal and amend some clauses in the Gaming Act 2018 in a newly minted Gaming Act 2019 proposal that was revealed the other day. As a recap, the 2018 Act calls for the establishment of a Betting Control and Licensing Board that will be tasked with issuing licenses and permits based on established regulations. It can also investigate complaints against existing licensees.

The Gaming Act 2018 further discusses control and licensing of betting where it defines offenses relating to unlicensed betting premises. What’s more, the Act seeks to grant approval before betting firms can place advertisements in the media. Also, the Gaming Act seeks to ban selling of alcohol in licensed premises. Additional details can be accessed in the Act, which is available online.

Gaming Act 2019


The newest Act from members of parliament does not deviate from the proposals in stated in 2018’s. In principle, it introduces further clauses to guard against betting craze and addiction. The Bill was made public earlier this week and is 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.

According to The Star, the 2019 Act introduces the following proposals that will be deliberated by MPs today:

  • 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 percent 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 electronics 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.
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