Kenya betting and casino operators were supposed to get their license renewed by the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) by July 1. However, the gaming regulator decided to suspend the licenses of 19 operators and postpone the renewal for another 8 operators.
The decision taken by the BCLB does not come entirely as a surprise to casino and betting operators as the two parties have not been able to see eye-to-eye for quite sometime now. The Kenyan government wasn’t happy to learn that the combined revenue of the gambling industry surpassed Sh204 billion but their overall tax collection was only Sh4 billion.
The BCLB pushed casino and betting operators to start collecting 20 percent taxes on their player winnings but operators refused to oblige to this order stating that gaming regulations did not enforce such a stance. To make matters worse, most of the revenue collected by these foreign betting operators are sent overseas which has upset the Kenyan government.
BCLB Takes Tough Stance
The BCLB stated that it has received permission from the Kenya President’s office to crackdown on betting and casino operators. The National Security Advisory Committee which is the top most security organization in the country has been asked to oversee the standoff and tough stance taken by the government.
The BCLB has cancelled the licenses of some of the biggest operators in the country while others have been given instructions to comply with specific regulations before they can be considered for a license renewal.
Some of the casino operators that have faced the fire of the BCLB include: Millionaire Sports Bet,Betyetu, Eastleighbet, Elitebet, Cysabet, Bungabet, Easybet, Kenya Sports Bet, Kick Off and Nestbet. The list also includes: Mozzartbet, SportPesa, World Sport Bet, Betin, Atari Gaming, Betway, Betboss, 1X Bet, Betpawa, Dafa bet, Premierbet, Palmsbet and Lucky 2 U.
Betway, Betin and SportsPesa are the three major players in the Kenyan gambling market and between them control more than 80 percent of the market.
Kenyan Operators Defy Government
The gambling market in African has grown significantly in recent years. South Africa is the biggest gambling market followed by Nigeria and Kenya in third place. A market survey for 2017 to 2021 showed that Kenya’s gambling market should hit Sh500 billion next year.
The gambling industry in Kenya makes a difference to the government as it bring in foreign investment, boosts government coffers via gaming taxes and also provides employment to thousands of locals. Kenyan gaming operators are aware of how dependent the government is on this lucrative market and are willing to fight back and remain positive that the BCLB will renew their licenses.
Gaming operators in Kenya have not stopped offering casino and betting services even though their licenses are either suspended or deferred. This puts them in a precarious position as the government can take serious action as they are running an illegal operation.
Fred Matiang’i who is the Interior Cabinet Secretary said that all casino and betting operators should have ceased operations as they no longer have a license. However, casino and betting operators are will to push their luck and count on the fact that the government will give in sooner or later rather than shutdown and entire gaming industry and lose out.
Kenyan Government Not Willing To Back Down
However, the Kenyan government is not willing to backdown now that they have the approval of the President’s office. The authorities have threatened to go after the senior management and foreign bosses of these gaming companies. They have threated to cancel their visas and deport them.
The Kenyan government is also concerned over the rise in gambling addiction in the country. Reports show that more than 40 percent of low income players are unemployed and another 29 percent are students. More than half a million Kenyans have been blacklisted by credit check agencies as they have borrowed mobile loans to gamble and have not been able to pay it back on time.
In a statement, Fred Matiang’i said “There is no law that compels a government to issue a licence to any investor. Our decision is going to shake the sector for sure, but we have reached a point where we have to save our country.”

Tight Poker Staff

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For nearly two decades, we’ve provided the best in class for poker site reviews, top online poker bonuses, strategy tips, poker news, and exclusive free poker content.  Consisting of a team of poker and gambling experts, we deliver the best online poker brand experience for players of all levels, from the fish to the sharks.