Amend­ments to Bet­ting Act laugh­ably de­fi­cient

Nairobi Law Monthly - - Analysis - KELVIN MUGWE

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

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