Kenya is set to enforce stricter laws on its gambling industry

  • Owners of illegally placed slot machines may face much higher fines and even jail time under a new bill
  • Security deposits and tax rates are also due to rise, according to Aden Duale, Majority Leader

Kenya’s government is reportedly set to introduce a number of changes to the country’s current method of regulating its gambling industry, and slot machines are said to be in the spotlight.

Kenya changes to gambling legislation
Slot machines could be a key focus on the new regulations

Aden Duale – the National Assembly Majority Leader – has added the suggested changes to the regulations onto the Statute Law Bill, which was brought to light on Wednesday at the bill’s first reading.

He has reportedly put forward that county governments in Kenya should be given the chance to decide whether or not gambling operators interested in the country’s market should be able to obtain a license.

Changes to licenses

The Betting Control and Licensing Board is currently tasked with handing out gambling licences to relevant and applicable parties, but if the amendments to the bill get passed into law, it will be the choice of country officials.

When handed a copy of their application for a gambling license, the county’s representatives will have to review the candidate’s details and look out specifically for any irregularities.

Duale also suggested that, if a license is granted to a potential gambling operator by county officials, there should be an increase added to their security deposits. This would rise from KES40,000 ($387) to KES20 million ($193,517).

The next step is for the suggested amendments to gain the support of the Kenyan government; only then will they appear as law in the Betting, Lotteries, and Gaming Act.

Have slot machines had their day in Kenya?

Over the past few years, the number of installed slot machines across Kenya has risen dramatically, and they have begun to appear in such places as storefronts both in urban areas and more rural ones.

But if Duale’s proposals go through and become law, any slot machine owners who are not permitted to have them installed in various public places could be landed with fines of up to KES2 million ($19,351), not to mention potentially facing two years in prison.

Although this is deemed a strategic idea by the industry, a number of analysts in the sector believe that it will “only prolong the process” of curbing the growth of slot machines across the country. And on the player side of the coin, maximum bet limits could be set to rise to KES50,000 ($483).

Other planned changes

Recently in the country, lawmakers – in an attempt to curb the rapid growth of underage and irresponsible gambling – have suggested and approved an increased gambling tax rate.

As it stands, operators who market to Kenya’s local players are required to pay 7.5% on their yearly net revenue. But when Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta signed the Finance Act 2017 into law back in June, he agreed to impose a higher tax rate of 35%.

This is 15% under what previous suggestions had put forward, which needless to say did not gather much support.

The increased tax rate for gambling operators in Kenya will be made effective on the first day of 2018, despite the fact that already, many key industry players are against such a rise.

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