MPs are wagering to see if they can dissuade Kenyans from joining the betting craze with a proposed law introducing tough tax measures and minimum bets to regulate the industry.

The Gaming Bill 2019, which was published on Tuesday, sets hefty licensing fees for companies seeking to set up base in Kenya and raises the minimum amount of a bet.

For the first time, betting firms in the country will be required to pay Sh100 million for gaming securities, to serve as a cushion to gamblers should the betting firms refuse to pay a ‘windfall’.

This is in addition to an annual licence fee of Sh30 million.

Currently, firms operating public gaming (casinos) pay a Sh1 million application fee, Sh3 million licence fee, Sh500,000 annual licence and Sh25,000 for licence renewal.

In a new strategy to reduce the number of young gamblers, the Bill proposes that the minimum bet is Sh50. Currently, one can bet with Sh1 through some betting firms such as betPawa.

Royal Media’s Shabiki allows gamblers to spend Sh20, with a possibility of winning a Sh20 million jackpot.

However, at least Sh100 is required to place a jackpot bet with SportPesa.

The Bill, due to be tabled when Parliament reconvenes next week, will further restrict Kenyans’ access to foreign gaming sites.

The move is also meant to retain cash within the Kenyan economy, instead of giving it away to foreign firms.

BETTING WITH SH1
In a new strategy to reduce the number of young gamblers, the Bill proposes that the minimum bet is Sh50. Currently, one can bet with Sh1 through some betting firms such as betPawa.

Royal Media’s Shabiki allows gamblers to spend Sh20, with a possibility of winning a Sh20 million jackpot.
However, at least Sh100 is required to place a jackpot bet with SportPesa.
If passed, the law would repeal the Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Act, which was enacted in 1966, on grounds the existing law is outdated.

The Bill would allow Kenyans to co-own part (30 per cent) of the gaming industry by taking up shares in the firms operating in the country.

Gaming operators are currently required to pay 35 per cent corporate tax and contribute 20 per cent of all revenue to a worthy cause.

Operators are supposed to withhold 20 per cent of players’ winnings as part of the taxation policy.

The Bill, which is due for its First Reading, proposes the establishment of The National Gambling Authority, The National Lottery Trust Fund and the Gaming Appeals Tribunal.

The government has suffered setbacks on a number of occasions as it has attempted to introduce stringent measures to control gambling, especially among the youths.

On Tuesday, the High Court declared unconstitutional a proposal by the government to ban outdoor, electronic and online advertising of gambling and betting.





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