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Proposed law to tighten control of betting firms

Sports betting firms, which have been raking in billions of shillings, risk tighter controls if Parliament approves changes to the Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Act.

The proposed law seeks to impose a ban on advertisement of competitions in which prizes are offered in what will force betters to rely on phone applications and betting firms’ websites on the bets.

This means that should MPs enact the Betting, Lotteries and Gaming (Amendment) Bill, 2016, sports betting firms such as Sportpesa, Betin, Betway, Mcheza among others will be barred from splashing advertisements in print and electronic media ahead of key local and international football matches.

“No person shall conduct in Kenya, in or through any newspaper or broadcasting, or in connection with a trade or business or the sale of which any article to the public a competition in which prizes are offered for broadcasts of result either of future event, or of past event the result of which is not yet ascertained or not yet generally known,” Jakoyo Midiwo, the sponsor of the Bill says in the proposal.

Those who contravene the proposed changes to the law will face fines ranging from Sh1 million and Sh4 million, up from the current Sh3,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or both.

Mr Midiwo mid this year lost his bid to have MPs establish a select committee to probe the activities of sports betting companies.

He wanted the special committee to probe claims of tax evasion, financial impropriety, regulation and benefits of the industry to society and the State.

The MPs were to ascertain whether some betting, gaming and casino businesses were involved in tax avoidance and money laundering.

Through the Bill, Mr Midiwo seeks to establish an authority to licence and regulate the activities of betting, lotteries and gaming firms.

The Kenya Betting Control and Licensing Authority will have the power to regulate and control the operation of betting and gaming and conduct of lotteries and prize competition. 

The authority will also have the power to vary, suspend or cancel the licences.

The Bill seeks to regulate the use of amusement machines and gaming machines and introduces penalties of up to Sh4 million for breach of law.  

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