Nairobi to ban betting outside five-star hotels

Economy

Nairobi to ban betting outside five-star hotels


Players track their bets at a betting shop in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • The Nairobi County Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Bill 2021, currently before the Nairobi County Assembly, seeks to restrict betting and gaming establishments in the city to operate between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. hours of the morning.
  • South B Ward Representative Waithera Chege, the author of the amendments, said the bill was intended to inspire young people to engage in productive work and prevent gambling addiction.
  • The bill also aims to push telecom operators to cancel all USSD codes used by radios in their gaming activities.

Nairobi has launched a new assault on the multibillion-dollar betting industry with legislative proposals that limit gambling to five-star hotels with casinos and impose a four-year prison sentence or a 10 million shillings fine for open outside opening hours.

The Nairobi County Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Bill 2021, currently before the Nairobi County Assembly, seeks to restrict betting and gaming establishments in the city to operate between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. hours of the morning.

If adopted, it will mark a break with the current situation where players can place bets at any time of the day.

South B Ward Representative Waithera Chege, the author of the amendments, said the bill was intended to inspire young people to engage in productive work and prevent gambling addiction.

“All licensed betting, lottery and gaming sites and online games must only operate during the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. A person who violates this provision will be liable, if convicted, to a fine of 10 million shillings or four years imprisonment, or both,” Ms Chege said.

The bill also aims to push telecom operators to cancel all USSD codes used by radios in their gaming activities.

Ms Chege expressed concern about the way Kenyans spend so much of their productive time on gambling.

A 2017 Geopoll survey ranked Kenya as the country with the highest number of youth gambling in sub-Saharan Africa.

The report estimated that 76% of Kenyans participated in betting, with the majority of them being young people between the ages of 17 and 35.

The proposed restrictions on opening hours also target mobile betting, with companies running gambling activities having to shut down their bills and apps until after working hours.

The bill seeks to amend the Nairobi County Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Act 2021 to strengthen the regulation of gaming in the county.

The Act, which governs the operation and licensing of betting, gaming and totalizer premises in Nairobi, was assented to by Governor Ann Kananu on April 22, 2021 and came into force on May 6, 2021.

The proposed changes also seek to limit the location of gambling establishments, specifying that such businesses will only be located in five-star hotels rated by the Tourism Regulatory Authority.

This means that the town hall will only issue operating licenses to owners of betting houses, lotteries or games that have complied with the regulations, putting an end to gambling venues that are not in five-star establishments. .

Violation of the Establishment Regulations will result in a fine of 5 million shillings or imprisonment not exceeding two years or both.

Additionally, gambling companies will have to adopt cashless transactions for betting in the county to prevent minors from engaging in such activities, a move that is likely to hit gambling companies’ revenue hard.

“Going cashless will mean that those who are still in school will not be able to register for mobile gaming accounts because they don’t have ID cards,” Ms Chege said.

The premises must be dematerialized within six months of the promulgation of this law.

The bill also prohibits the broadcasting of video or audio programs promoting betting, lotteries and gambling advertisements before peak hours.

“A person shall not erect or display house signage on betting, lottery and gaming activities and premises without the approval of the county minister responsible for town and physical planning,” it says.

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