Kenya is on the cusp of significant transformation within its gambling industry as the nation introduces the Gambling Control Bill 2023. This proposed legislation, currently under parliamentary consideration, seeks to establish a new regulatory body known as the Gambling Regulatory Authority. If passed, this authority will replace the existing Betting, Control and Licensing Board (BCLB), signifying a major shift in how Kenya regulates its gambling sector. 

The primary objective behind this legislative move is to bolster the oversight and regulation of gambling activities within the country, addressing a range of pressing issues, including unlicensed and underage gambling, taxation, and promoting responsible gaming practices. This article delves into the key provisions and implications of the Gambling Control Bill, shedding light on its potential impact on Kenya’s gambling landscape.

Strengthening Regulatory Authority

The proposed Gambling Regulatory Authority will be responsible for licensing and regulation, consolidating the functions currently split between multiple bodies. This streamlined approach is intended to improve efficiency and ensure gambling operators comply with all requirements. The bill will regulate various forms of gambling, including betting, casinos, prize competitions, public lotteries, and media promotions.

Supporting Charitable Lotteries

The Gambling Control Bill takes a comprehensive approach to regulating charitable lotteries in Kenya. Under the proposed legislation, charitable lotteries must allocate a minimum of 30% of their proceeds to the specific philanthropic cause they are promoting. This provision ensures that the primary objective of such lotteries remains focused on contributing to charitable endeavours and social welfare.

Furthermore, the bill introduces strict penalties for individuals or entities found promoting unlicensed lotteries. Anyone caught promoting an unlicensed lottery will face a substantial KES1 million fine, a deterrent aimed at curbing illegal lottery activities. In addition to the hefty fine, offenders could also be subject to a one-year jail term, sending a strong message about the seriousness of this offence.

Deposits, Taxation and Levies

All financial transactions related to gambling activities must occur through a Kenyan-registered bank. Operators must deposit bank guarantees or insurance security bonds to cover potential losses due to unlicensed gambling activities. The deposit amounts are substantial, with KES20 million for casinos and KES200 million for lotteries and online sports betting in Kenya.

The bill mandates that Kenyan citizens hold at least 30% of shares to ensure gambling operators have a significant local presence and commitment. 

One of the critical financial provisions of the bill is the imposition of a 15% tax on gross gambling revenue. This tax is designed to generate substantial revenue for the government, which can then be allocated to various public services and initiatives. By taxing a percentage of the gross gambling revenue, the government can secure a consistent source of income from the gambling industry, which has witnessed significant growth in recent years.

Additionally, the bill introduces another crucial financial component: the monthly gambling levy determined by local counties. This levy is a localized contribution that empowers counties to benefit directly from the gambling activities within their jurisdictions. The funds generated from this levy can be channelled into community development projects, healthcare, education, and other services at the county level. It ensures that the impact of gambling revenue is felt at the grassroots level, allowing counties to address specific needs and priorities.

Moreover, these financial measures serve another critical purpose: promoting responsible gaming practices. By imposing taxes and levies, the bill encourages operators to adhere to responsible and ethical business practices. It incentivises operators to ensure their platforms are safe, fair, and conducive to responsible gambling. This, in turn, helps protect consumers from excessive or harmful gambling behaviours.

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