Gambling Lovers Using Kshs 50 To Bet Face Hefty Fines Under New Law

By  |  July 1, 2019

The glory days for betting lovers who spend less than Kshs 50 and those using their mobile phones to place a bet on an online gaming platform is almost over following the unveiling of a proposed Gaming Bill in Parliament. The proposed bill seeks to restrict betting to a minimum of Kshs 50 and outlaw the use of phones to play the game.

If passed into law, those found breaching the law will face a penalty of not less than Ksh 5 Mn fine or a jail term not exceeding six years.

On the other hand, the penalty for those placing a bet using a mobile phone will attract a fine of up to KSh 2 Mn or a maximum jail term of two years. Ksh 50 Mn fine will be subjected if the culprit is a company.

Gaming sites like BetPawa, Elite Bet, BetYetu allow gamblers to place a stake of up to Sh5 on their sites. However, its rivals like Sportpesa, Betin, and Betway have restricted their minimum stake to Ksh 50.

“A player in an online gaming activity shall not bet an amount of less than Sh50 in a competition, Those who engage in an online gaming activity for an amount than that prescribed under subsection (1) commit an offense and shall be liable upon conviction to a fine of not less than Ksh 5 Mn or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six years,” part of the bill states.

The Gaming sector, which has recorded huge growth in Kenya allows services like M-Pesa users to place bets, pay off losses, and get winnings on their phone without the necessity of using a bank account.

The bill thus seeks to create a real-time monitoring system accessible to the telecommunications sector regulator, the Communications Authority of Kenya which will facilitate remote tracking of gaming transactions.

Online gaming firms will be required to provide a website platform as well as all visual and audio communication channels.

“A person in Kenya may not use a telecommunication platform for purposes of playing online games which include betting, lottery, casino games or any platform for other forms of online gaming, ” the bill reads.

The proposed law intends to regulate the growth of the gaming sector, which, over the last five years, has grown to Ksh 200 Bn ($1.98 Bn) from Ksh 2 Bn.

The sector has been largely blamed on the back of unemployed youth. According to Geopoll, Kenya has the highest number of gambling youth in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), the convenience of the mobile phone as a tool for gambling was mentioned as the reasons for the popularity of the activity.

The bill also includes a clause seeking to outlaw the use of servers hosted in foreign countries for online gaming; it says,” The Communications Authority of Kenya shall ensure that no foreign operators offering online gaming services shall have access to recruit and offer services to players domiciled in Kenya.”

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