NAIROBI, Kenya May 29 – Betting companies in the country and gamblers are set to be dealt a major blow if new legislative proposals by Members of Parliament to repeal the current regulations that were enacted in 1966 will be passed.
The proposed Gaming Bill 2019 drafted by the National Assembly Sports, Culture and Tourism Committee according to the Chair Victor Munyaka are meant to seal the numerous loopholes in the multi-billion shillings industry.
Munyaka says the 170 clauses documented in the proposals will key among other things address the menace associated with the addictive risk venture that has lured hundreds of youths who strive to make a quick kill by risking their hard-earned money or savings.
He regretted that gambling had become a serious threat to hard work with many young Kenyans opting to indulge in the exercise.
“These proposals will seal most of the gaps in the existing law and will deal with and cure many of the concerns raised by Kenyans about an unregulated, uncontrolled and carelessly operated industry with many far-reaching negative effects to millions of citizens,” he said.
The Machakos Town legislator, who spoke to journalists at Parliament buildings on Wednesday maintained that the committee was concerned about protecting the youth from gambling, noting that many had since been enslaved in the exercise who in turn, in the event of losing their bets, end up committing suicide.
He stressed the current regulations which target majority of the youths have no existing legal framework and argued that by extension they largely operate outside the law.
“The proposed repeal in informed by the fact that the existing legislation is archaic in nature and fails to address the modern-day challenges facing the betting and gaming industry especially during this era of internet connectivity,” he said.
He added that the proposals have been drafted with the consideration of ensuring that they align themselves with the provisions of the new constitution.
He lamented that the existing loopholes had been exploited by the betting firms in the country whom he accused of being insincere when reporting their revenues.
The third term lawmaker disclosed that the committee’s independent audit on betting firms in the country had established that they amass revenue amounting to Sh200 billion contrary to what he said they were reporting, figures he said were much less.
“These proposals will develop mechanisms for transparency in the gaming industry through a real time monitoring system that will attract full tax disclosures and gaming patterns by the government,” he said.
Part of the clause in the proposals stipulates that new entrants in the online gambling industry will at least have to part with Sh100 million and Sh30 million which Kioko said should be paid annually to the government.
The committee has further proposed to increase the amount used by gamblers to bet from the current Sh10 to a higher amount which he failed to disclose.
This, he, said would go a long way in limiting the level of gambling in the country.
The Bill is set to be tabled before the House next week when MPs resume sittings from their short recess, even as Kioko exuded confidence that it will receive the much-needed support from his colleagues.
Already, the government through Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi gave betting firms in the country an ultimatum to be tax complaint before July 1 or risk losing their licenses.
-By Davis Ayega-