President Uhuru Kenyatta moves to ban betting in Kenya
President Uhuru Kenyatta tells lawmakers in Kenya: Go ahead and pass the law against gambling. File Photo

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has advised lawmakers in the country to establish laws that prohibit gambling as an act.

While speaking at Citam’s 60th-anniversary celebrations at the Karen sanctuary, President Uhuru Kenyatta asked Nairobi Senator Johnston Sakaja and Women Representative Esther Passaris who were both in attendance to give him the bill and he will sign it.

“We have this thing called gambling, it is very bad, I Uhuru alone cannot end it, go ahead and pass the law,” Kenyatta said before adding that gaming companies need to comply with the existing laws as they operate their businesses and until the law is changed. 

Also, he pointed out that there is no reason why only a few individuals benefit from gaming companies that claim to be sponsoring athletes and sportsmen.

The Kenyan betting industry has in recent times recorded a surge in popularity amid aggressive marketing campaigns by players and projections are that gross gambling revenue in Kenya stands at Sh7 billion monthly and about Sh100 billion annually, according to the betting regulator.

A recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers shows that the yearly turnover of the sports betting industry in Kenya is worth $20 million, and will reach $50 million in 2020 as demand grows.

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Appropriately, Kenya is the third-largest gambling market after South Africa and Nigeria respectively in Africa in terms of revenues.

Earlier, a total of 17 foreigners, were found guilty of getting involved in illegal gambling business in the country.

In July 2019, the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) banned at least 27 firms which were yet to meet undisclosed licensing requirements and were being vetted to establish if they are fit to hold gambling permits.

This saw Gaming giant, SportPesa cancel all its sponsorships in the country due to signs of a challenging environment coupled with tight laws.

Being the main sponsor of many local football clubs and other sports in Kenya, SportPesa on 6th August 2015 signed a four-and-a-half-year deal with the Kenya Premier League (KPL) reportedly worth Sh450 million to gain naming rights.

Under the same contract, it saw Kenya’s top-flight football league, renamed as SportPesa Premier League.

The gaming company also sponsors the SPL perennial champions Gor Mahia and their rivals AFC Leopards in a deal worth Sh120 million each year.

By John Dalton Kigozi