The practice of gambling has become an everyday activity for many a household in Kenya, as more and more novel opportunities are being made available to their player pool. Currently, the country ranks third in Africa based on the amount of traffic it produces during its land-based and online endeavors, with strong signs of greater progress down the line.
Due to this indicative state of the Kenyan gambling industry affairs, it has become paramount that specific regulation and legal restrictions are set in place. Namely, with over 3 million dollars in revenue per annum, this growing industry has definitely had a strong impact on many spheres respectively.
The social structure has undergone changes as a result of improvement in the country’s economic trends – while Kenyan GDP mostly depended on tourism and agriculture, the gambling industry has made a noteworthy contribution to its growth. Employment rates have also been on the rise in recent years, mostly due to the introduction of online gambling
as yet another possibility for Kenyan enthusiasts.
On the other hand, the growing number of gambling options has had a negative impact on gambling addiction and problem gambling in general. This is a normal reaction to the surge in online gambling popularity, and a proper response is most likely found in clear-cut laws and corresponding legal authorities to enforce them. Ultimately, an entire legal regulative framework has been set up, increasing the potential expansion of the iGaming industry in Kenya.
Legal Gambling Regulation in Kenya
Gambling as a form of entertainment has been present on Kenyan territory for quite some time, but it has been a little over half a century that corresponding regulation allowed the establishment of numerous land-based gambling venues. The Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Act of 1966 made way for gambling as a practice to be introduced as yet another developing industry.
Thus, today’s network of gambling locations in Kenya features around 11 bingo halls, one racetrack and three sportsbooks, all in order to offer a variety of gambling activities. What is more, there are approximately 30 land-based casino operators, equipped with the latest slots and video electronic gaming machines, as well as a vast array of table games. All this has been made possible by the licensing and regulating authoritative body which originated from the BLGA, known as the Betting Control and Licensing Board.
Betting Control and Licensing Board
While gambling was once regulated by the Ministry of Interior Affairs, nowadays, all such matters are handled by the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB). This authority is given the power to control the gambling environment, introduce operators by licensing them – once they meet necessary requirements – and to restrict operators from catering to the Kenyan player pool.
With an overall progressively oriented approach, its license is definitely a worthwhile decoration.
This organisation has certain core functions that give a more detailed account of its day-to-day work. Apart from the above-mentioned tasks of licensing, managing and repealing operators, the Betting Control and Licensing Board further works to provide competitions and regulate prize systems, to keep up with trends, demand and market changes and respond appropriately through new policies.
This, in turn, allows the Board to maintain a highly transparent industry, ultimately reducing the risk of corruption and illegal gambling services. With an overall progressively oriented approach, its license is definitely a worthwhile decoration for any given lottery, sport betting or casino platform.
Online Gambling Regulations in Kenya
In the past two decades, the introduction and rise of the Internet have paved the way for numerous well-known industries to expand their services to virtual platforms. Gambling inevitably made use of the massive potential and ended up providing players in Kenya and beyond with the whole range of gambling activities, straight from their computer screens.
Once smartphones became more advanced, allowing access to online content just like any PC or laptop did, mobile gaming took the lead role. About 98% of Kenyans today use their smartphones to get online, with a great portion of this population using them for mobile online gambling exclusively. As for the legal regulative applying to this wide area of gambling practices in Kenya, the same Act, and its appropriate Betting Control and Licensing Board are considered legitimate authorities.
Nonetheless, it wasn’t long before government officials identified the huge potential of this industry’s online segment and urged to impose greater taxes on operators and players alike. At this time, 20% taxes for operators have seen an increase to 35%, which is still a better option than the proposed 50%.
Many types of online operators have gone under due to inability to pay, especially considering that they are also obliged to pay 35% corporate tax and contribute 20% of all revenue to a worthy cause. Players have also seen a change regarding the tax policy on their winnings. Namely, operators are supposed to withhold 20% of players’ winnings as part of this taxation policy, but only lotteries have been obliging to such regulative so far.
The cause behind this resistance is in this policy’s shortcomings when it comes to automobile prizes and other non-cash rewards.All in all, there has been great progress in the way the Kenyan government has handled matters regarding land-based and online gambling.
With the latter expanding and advancing at a rapid pace, there have been efforts to keep up and meet the new needs. Despite certain setbacks, there is definitely a positive outlook for the future of gambling in Kenya, and the optimal way to regulate and license it.
editor [at] businesstoday.co.ke