Kenya Bans Social Media, TV, and Outdoors Gaming Ads

Friday, May 3rd, 2019 | Written by April Bergman
Kenya Bans Social Media, TV, and Outdoors Gaming Ads

Kenya announced new gambling regulations on Thursday which bans social media advertisments. The Kenya gaming ad law bans all outdoors advertisements for gaming operations, too.

Interior Minister Fred Matiangi (pictured) banned all tv advertisements between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. It also banned celebrity endorsements of any kind for gambling companies. The celebrity ban includes entertainers and sports stars.

Also, Kenyan officials must approve all new gambling ads. The government requires those that past inspection must include warnings that entail at least one-third of the ad itself.

Kenyans bet online, preferring mobile gambling to land-based casinos and gaming dens. Sports betting firms like SportPesa accept online bettors from Kenya, while BetOnline Kenya is a major operator.

Kenyan Mobile Betting

Local gamblers can bet via mobile phones using M-Pesa by Safaricom. Such transactions take place entirely without a person needing a bank account. Kenyan players make bets, pay off debts, and collect winnings entirely within the Android phone.

Naturally, the large bulk of mobile bettors hail from the younger generation. Government action aims to solve problem gambling concerns among the country’s youth.

Kenya Gambling Industry: $1.98 Billion a Year

The East African country’s gambling industry grew substantially over the past 5 years. According to the Finance Ministry, Kenya’s gambling sector generates $1.98 billion a year and employs 5,000 different people.

Fred Matiangi Cites “Rogue Behavior”

Fred Matiangi said in a statement announcing the bans, “Rogue behaviour in the betting and lotteries industry is endangering the lives of our young people. This clean up has just started and we will carry it through no matter what it takes, because young Kenyan lives are worth saving.”

The ban comes a month after the Interior Minister said problem gambling is a growing problem in Kenya, especially amount younger people. At the time, Matiangi said that 54% of Kenya’s problem gamblers come from low-income backgrounds.

76% of Kenya’s Youth are Bettors

That number jumps even higher when it involves younger Kenyans. The Kenyan Interior Minister recently posted to his Twitter feed, “76 percent of youth in Kenya are bettors — this is the highest figure in Africa.”

Mr. Matiangi pointed out that betting operators accept bets from players who cannot pass credit checks. Speaking of youth bettors, he said, “Half a million have been blacklisted by lenders because they borrowed to bet and failed to pay back.”

2018 Kenyan Tax Law (Amendment) Bill

Last year, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyanan signed the Kenyan Tax Law (Amendment) Bill 2018, which cut the online gambling tax from 15% to 35%. The law was designed to help legal and licensed online gaming sites compete with unlicensed sites, which draw many signups.

The government increased the sportsbook tax rate from 7.5% to 35% in June 2017, but that decision proved to be a disaster. The 2018 law included a 10% tax on lottery winnings.

Joseph Limo, the Financial and National Planning Committee chairman, said at the time, “To be able to increase the tax base to also include winnings that form approximately 88% of all the revenues generated from these activities and because this is the first time taxation is being introduced, the [National Planning] Committee was of the view that 20% is too high.”

“Hence the adoption of 10% for both residents and non-residents.”