Amendments to Betting Act laughably deficient
The Kenyan society has perfected the art of “touch and go”. Political, social and economic occurrences are at times received with insurmountable excitement and at times utter disgust. However, the emotions instigated by these occurrences quickly subside upon the emergence of new incidents. The opinions and feelings of the hoi polloi immediately shift to the latter incident and the former becomes almost non-existent. Despite this penchant to briskly indulge in new issues and turn a blind eye to the older ones, there are matters that have become inherently attached to Kenyans. One such matter is betting, which shall form the subject of this discourse.
A sizeable number of the Kenyan populace has lately been engrossed in the novel and at times lucrative art of betting. This practice, which has been embraced wholeheartedly by most, has even attracted greenhorns who have hitherto wandered in the sport’s wilderness. Save for a few dissenting voices, there is general consensus that betting currently forms a core part of the lives several people, especially the youth. Nevertheless, most participants are oblivious of the legal regime under which it falls – The Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Act of 1966, CAP 131.
The Act was assented to on March 11, 1966, and came into effect eight months later. Negligible amendments have been made in the Act to date, and this is probably as a result of the industry being in a state of stagnation. The industry has in recent times sparked into life, and thus ignited calls for significant changes to be made on the Act. Prof Musili Wambua, the immediate former chairman of the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB), once stated that the industry has gone well ahead of the regulator in terms of enforcement. He further added that there is need for the Act to reflect technological advancements, noting that the BCLB had made a raft of proposals that would ensure the Act is effectively upgraded. The board suggested that the Government should start charging a gaming tax as the current tax model does not secure funds for the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), other than withholding tax on winnings. The board also called for regulation of the players in the betting sector who enjoy unfettered discretion with regard to how they choose to deploy the money collected. The desire to change the Act by the Board is also shared by the betting operators, with most calling for a level playing field.
In light of the foregoing, Parliament