A new amendment bill that has been introduced in Kenya is seeking to suspend gambling from 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM as part of the Government’s efforts to protect young people from getting hooked on the activity. The proposed amendment to the Nairobi City County Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Bill 2021 has been backed by Waithera Chege, a member of the local County Assembly, who has been willing to see gambling banned during the time she called “productive human hours”.
In order for the bill to proceed and actually introduce the aforementioned restrictions, the Nairobi County Assembly needs to vote and ratify the proposed piece of legislation. As Ms. Waithera explained, young people have been found to be increasingly spending time at gambling and betting venues across the country, so the Government had to do something in order to protect these vulnerable individuals from possible gambling-related harm.
Ms. Waithera has called for the authorities to ban access to such establishments at certain hours in order to make sure young people who have been demonstrating symptoms of addiction are protected.
Although some campaigners have been doing their best to tackle gambling among young people, many Kenyan residents believe gambling could be ranked among the most important economic sectors of the country. Several years ago, the country was named one of the top three markets in Africa, and in 2020, its gambling industry was expected to generate a turnover of about $50 million.
That has been among the main reasons why gambling companies have been worried that the introduction of a blanket ban on gambling in the aforementioned hours would have an opposite effect on the country’s economy and the people involved in the sector.
Campaigners Insist on Gambling Legislation Changes to Protect Young Kenyan Customers
As CasinoGamesPro previously reported, some sports betting operators in Kenya, such as Betin and Sportpesa, have been affected by the implementation of stricter rules and an excise tax of 20%, and eventually decided to withdraw from the country’s gambling sector. In fact, the withdrawal of these two operators actually proved that Kenyan sports were extremely vulnerable without their sponsorship deals with gambling companies.
It is true that gambling and sports betting have played a crucial part in Kenya’s economy, but campaigners like Ms. Waithera still insist that the proposed amendment is necessary as it would help the Government further regulate the sector. Furthermore, the amendment will also seek to regulate mobile betting and to introduce cashless transactions as the primary source of payment in the industry as a way to prevent customers from spending too much money on the practice. The target group of these changes is also younger audiences.
Excessive gambling advertising has also been strongly criticized, so campaigners have also called for gambling promotion to be ceased. According to some research carried out by Geopoll, 76% of young Kenyan residents have engaged with some form of gambling during the time of the survey. The research also found that the aggressive gambling advertising practices in the country were linked to higher participation rates of younger players.