The Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB), the gambling authority in Kenya, has shut down all betting shops and casinos as part of the social distancing measures the government is instituting to curb the spread of the disease.
"We make reference to our circular dated March 21, and a statement made by the Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Health on March 22, indicating that coronavirus has continued to affect the world in an unprecedented way," said BCLB director Peter Mbugi in a memo to betting operators on Monday.
“In view of these developments, you are hereby directed to close down all casinos and betting shops with effect from the date of this circular, until further notice."
Mr. Mbugi added that the ban will also see gaming and betting advertisements on radio and TV suspended. "As responsible citizens, you are also required to keep yourselves abreast of and compliant with the government directives that will be issued periodically," he said.
Two days ago, the Ministry of Health directed that bars and entertainment spots be closed and eateries to operate only takeaway service.
These are part of the social distancing measures the government is instituting to curb spread of the disease whose confirmed cases hit 16 yesterday in Kenya, Business Daily Africa reports.
The casino ban comes barely two months after the Kenya Revenue Authority threatened to deactivate pay bill numbers of gaming companies who have refused to submit revenues collected from the 20 percent excise tax deducted from stakes-placed by punters.
The taxman, in a public notice published on MyGov website in January also said it will suspend online operations of the non-compliant managers of betting firms, in a move which was aimed at increasing tax collection in the current financial year.
The Finance Act 2019 introduced excise tax on stakes placed on bookmakers by punters in a new directive which also required gaming companies to display the same deductions on betting slips.
KRA also imposed a 20 percent withholding tax on all winnings on compliant betting firms from last July.
All betting firms seeking to renew their licenses and new entrants also have to adhere to the new regulations by the taxman.
This has been burdening betting companies as there already exists a 15 percent betting tax and 30 percent corporation tax.