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Interior Cabinet Secretary Reiterates Gambling Crackdown Will Be Rolled Out to Upgrade Kenya’s Betting Policy

Dr. Fred Matiang’i, the Interior Cabinet Secretary of Kenya, has lifted the curtain on the stricter measures which his ministry is planning to impose in order to upgrade the country’s betting policy.

Speaking at a meeting at the Betting Control and Licensing Board today, he revealed that it is high time for Kenya to take measures in terms of the local betting sector and purge it from unwanted gambling firms or services. The suspension of all betting company licenses in the country until the license holders prove that they comply with the requirements of the Government will be part of the crackdown against the betting licensees in the country.

As explained by the Interior Cabinet Secretary, the stricter measures are set to come into force on July 1st. From the beginning of July, all betting companies in Kenya will remain suspended, until the license holders prove that their tax remittance compliance. Only companies that manage to provide the required proof will have their operating licenses renewed.

According to Mr. Matiang’i Kenya has turned into a country with a flourishing betting sector, which is not a good thing. He further reiterated his intention to pursue the necessary changes and stricter regulations in the Kenyan gambling industry.

Gambling was legalized in the country through the Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Act of 1966. Considering the fact that betting was brought to Kenya at the time when its industry was still developing, the problems which are currently faced by authorities trying to deal with growing gambling-related harm.

Kenyan Government Tries to Tackle Spreading Popularity of Gambling

Spreading popularity of gambling services among young people has been one of the most serious concerns of the country’s authorities. As reported by Matiang’i, 76% of young Kenyans are actively involved in gambling, and more than half of the active gamblers have low income.

According to the Internal Cabinet Secretary, the crackdown on the country’s betting sector will probably see many of the gambling operators out of the business as soon as the stricter regulation comes into effect. As revealed by Mr. Matiang’i, a gambling bill, which is currently being prepared, is to be passed by the parliament in order to give the green light to the expected changes and regulations.

In April 2018, the Treasury gave in to pressure from gambling operators and proposed to reduce local gambling tax from 35% to 15%. The 35% tax had been previously introduced by the country’s Government and had taken effect on January 1st, 2018. Before that, the local authorities imposed a 5% tax on lottery sales, a 7.5% tax on betting operators, a 12% tax on casino gambling operators and 15% tax on various competitions such as raffles besides other levies and taxes.

The higher tax regime hit some of the operators hard, with Pambazuka National Lottery becoming the first victim of the new tax rules, closing operations only about a year and a half after it was launched. The largest betting operator in Kenya – SportPesa – put an end to a local sports sponsorship estimated at KES600 million due to higher gaming taxes, in a move which was a serious blow for the rugby union, the soccer federation and football clubs.

 Author: Hannah Wallace

Hannah Wallace has been part of our team since the website was launched. She has a master’s degree in IT.