Kenyan President Calls For Blanket Ban On All Forms Of Gambling

Kenyan President Calls For Blanket Ban On All Forms Of Gambling August 27, 2019 August 27, 2019 Carolyn Dutton
 Industry August 27, 2019 by Carolyn Dutton
Uhuru Kenyatta

Kenya has a thriving gambling industry that generates millions of dollars in revenue each year and creates thousands of jobs for the locals. However, the gambling industry has been plagued with problems due to a standoff between the Kenyan government, the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) and betting operators.

In July, the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) closed down 27 gambling firms that did not fully meet the country’s licensing requirements. The government had also threatened to deport many of the foreign executives who run betting firms in the country. The government kept that promise and ended up deporting 17 foreigners for running gambling operations without licensed permits. 

Gambling addiction has also become a big problem for the government as Kenya’s youth have become addicted to sports betting. With so much of turmoil, President Uhuru Kenyatta wants to pass a law that will completely ban gambling in Kenya.

KTN News Kenya


President Kenyatta issued this challenge to lawmakers recently when he asked Nairobi Senator Johnston Sakaja and Women Representative Esther Passaris to work together with other lawmakers to create a bill banning all forms of gambling and promised that he would sign it. The president also warned gaming companies that they should follow the existing laws while they operate in Kenya. 

The government has not been happy with betting operators who were not willing to collect taxes on their customer’s winnings. The betting operators cited vague laws and did not want to impose a winning tax on their players. This frustrated the government who felt that they were not making enough money from legalized betting operators in the country and the two parties engaged in a stand-off.

The government decided to not renew the licenses of 27 betting firms in July to send a message to the gambling industry. With the President sending a direct message to legislators, it appears that Kenya might pull the plug on legalised betting.

Will Kenya Follow Through With A Blanket Ban?

A recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates the annual turnover for gambling in Kenya is $20 million. By 2020, this amount would reach $50 million. The report further outlines that the country is the third largest gambling market in Africa. Its two main competitors are South Africa and Nigeria, both countries being ahead of Kenya in revenue. But estimates put Kenya at the top when it comes to the number of gamblers in each country.

The question is whether Kenya will really follow through with this blanket ban that the President has proposed and shutdown a multi-million dollar industry? Only time will tell if the President will keep his word or if this is just another tactic to put pressure on betting operators in Kenya. 

Carolyn is our legislation expert, with a background in law she is able to cover the current state of gambling around the world