KENYAN M.P. WANTS TO EXCLUDE FOREIGN OPERATORS FROM ONLINE BETTING BUSINESS
Proposed bill faces opposition from the Kenyan sports betting industry.
Kenyan sports betting operators are currently voicing concerns regarding amendments to the Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Act proposed last month by member of parliament Jakoyo Midiwo.
The proposals include provisions that seek to license only betting companies that are fully owned by Kenyan nationals; marketing and advertising restrictions; tax on winning players; limits on playing time, deposits and even winnings; a 25-year minimum gambling age; and a puzzling requirement that appears to require sports betting operators to install their own telecommunications platforms and bans local telecommunications organizations from accepting their business.
According to local media reports there has been a sharp reaction to the proposals from operators and the Betting Control and Licensing Board, whose chairman Anthony Kung’u told local reporters that whilst he acknowledged the need for reasonable and practical amendments to legalization in order to keep pace with the growth of online gambling, the Midiwo proposals went too far and could reverse the gains that had been made by the industry.
The trade body for sports betting operators in Kenya, the Association of Gaming Operators in Kenya revealed that it has written to the National Assembly protesting the Midiwo proposals. CEO Harrison Ikunda said his members “oppose the bill in its entirety” and urged the government to engage with all interested parties in order to "develop a workable framework to bridge the perceived gap between legalization, regulation and industry realities.”
Among other reservations, Ikunda warned that the Midiwo proposals on excluding international ownership could be in conflict with the national constitution and its clauses guaranteeing protection to foreign investors.
He pointed out that some of Kenya's largest betting companies had foreign investors, who would be compelled to exit Kenya, and that the reportedly long list of foreign betting companies interested in applying for Kenyan licensing would be discouraged from entering the local market.
The proposals would also presumably impact the existing foreign company licensees in Kenya, which include internationally respected names like Bet365 and Betway.