Kenya’s New Gambling Control Bill: What You Need to Know

Kenya is taking steps to establish a new Gambling Regulatory Authority with the introduction of the Gambling Control Bill 2023. This bill, currently being reviewed by parliament, will replace the existing Betting, Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) once approved.

The new authority will inherit the Board’s current responsibilities for licensing and regulation, as stated in the bill. It aims to regulate various forms of gambling, including betting, casinos, prize competitions, public lotteries, and media promotions.

The bill, sponsored by National Assembly Majority leader Kimani Ichung’wah, is designed to crack down on unlicensed and underage gambling. It aims to strengthen the Board’s mandate following reports that many operators in Kenya were not complying with licensing requirements.

To address these issues, the bill proposes increased taxes and fines for offenses, as well as a ban on registering children for gambling activities. It also prohibits bets of less than Sh20, with a hefty fine imposed on operators offering stakes below the set amount. Additionally, radios and TV stations will be prohibited from airing gambling advertisements during certain hours.

The bill also includes provisions related to taxation and deposits, requiring licensed operators to have at least 30% of shares held by Kenyan citizens and to facilitate transactions through a Kenyan-registered bank. It also mandates the deposit of a bank guarantee or insurance security bond by entities to cover any unlicensed gambling activity.

Furthermore, the bill outlines specific deposit amounts for different types of gambling activities, such as casinos, online sports betting, and lotteries. It also addresses the licensing of lotteries intended to raise funds for charitable purposes, specifying that a minimum of 30% of the proceeds must be dedicated to the charitable cause promoted by the lottery.

Penalties for promoting unlicensed lotteries are also detailed in the bill, with fines or jail time imposed on individuals or entities found to be in violation. Additionally, the bill imposes a 15% tax on gross gambling revenue and allows local counties to determine a monthly gambling levy.

The introduction of the Gambling Control Bill follows the signing of a Finance Bill in 2022, which imposed a 7.5% tax on betting stakes. This tax has been a source of controversy in Kenya, with leading market players like Sportpesa and Betin withdrawing their services from the market in response.

Overall, the Gambling Control Bill 2023 represents a concerted effort by Kenya to address various issues related to gambling and establish a new regulatory authority to oversee the industry.