Friday September 5,2014 : KENYAN POWER STRUGGLE OVER ONLINE GAMBLING LICENSES
Who is authorised to license?
Kenya's Betting Control and Licensing Board and the Council of Governors, which represents the counties (provinces) in the East African nation, appear to be on a collision course over who should be overseeing the issue of licenses.
The problem seems to be rooted in government notice 137/2013 issued in August last year, which granted autonomy to the counties over matters involving gambling, which the counties assume include authority to approve and award online and land gambling licenses.
Despite this, the national Betting Control and Licensing Board claims that gambling is a "security issue", and that it is therefore necessary for the counties to involve national bodies in the licensing and permit process.
Council of Governors chairman Isaac Ruto disputed the BCLB claim this week, saying:
“This security argument is flawed and is only meant to frustrate the work of county governments in executing a function that has already been devolved.”
Ruto went on to warn that an order by the BCLB for counties to desist from dealing with betting and casino operators will adversely impact the counties' revenue bases.
He also advised businessmen in the industry that the counties are the only legitimate source of licensing, saying:
“The council of governors wishes to put on alert and warn all business operators not to get a licence from any other entity other than county governments. Any licence or permit obtained from the [BCLB] board shall not be recognised because functions on betting, casinos and other forms of gambling have already been devolved.”
Gambling is considered a leisure activity that generates tax revenue in Kenya. As such, it is promoted by the government and was previously regulated by the Betting Control and Licensing Board.