Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta has challenged lawmakers to come up with a law that will eliminate gambling in Kenya. He spoke on Saturday at Citam (Christ Is The Answer Ministries)’s 60th anniversary celebrations at the Karen sanctuary, and he asked Nairobi Senator Johnston Sakaja and Women Representative Esther Passaris who were both in attendance to deliver him the bill and he would sign it.
"We have this thing called gambling, it is very bad, I Uhuru alone cannot end it, go back to the constitution and change the laws," Uhuru said, as reported by the Daily Monitor. The president further told the gaming companies to adhere to the existing laws as they operate their businesses and until the law is changed.
President Kenyatta also pointed out that there is no reason for a few individuals to benefit from gaming companies who are claiming to sponsor athletes and sportsmen.
In July, Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) banned at least 27 firms which were yet to meet undisclosed licensing requirements and were being vetted to establish if they are fit to hold gambling permits, with giant betting firm Sportpesa being the biggest casualty. Earlier this month, members of the lower and upper houses of Parliament have issued a joint statement requesting the executive government to authorize the companies to resume their operations.
Two months prior, a total of 17 foreigners, who were involved in illegal gambling business in the country, were deported in renewed efforts by the government to tame the betting craze, almost a week after ordering telecoms firm Safaricom to stop processing payments for sports betting firms.
The moves came after Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i directed the Immigration PS Gordon Kihalangwa to review working permits of foreigners who had applied to conduct other businesses but ended up investing in the betting industry.
The Kenyan betting industry has in recent times recorded a surge in popularity amid aggressive marketing campaigns by players and projections are that gross gambling revenue in Kenya stands at Sh7 billion monthly and about Sh100 billion (about USD 966,6 M) annually, according to the betting regulator.
A recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) shows that the yearly turnover of the sports betting industry in Kenya is worth $20 million, and will reach $50 million in 2020 as demand grows. The report further said Kenya is the third largest gambling market after South Africa and Nigeria respectively in Africa in terms of revenues. However, in terms of participants, Kenya could be ahead of its peers in the region.