Update on Kenya’s Gambling Advertising Regulations

The Betting Control and Licencing Board (BCLB) has faced severe backlash from the Consumer Federation of Kenya (COFEK) over their failure to safeguard consumers from advertising by betting companies. COFEK deems these practices as “predatory”, prompting them to write an open letter highlighting the absence of regulations prohibiting operators from promoting their services to Kenyan consumers through specific internet browsers.

These alarming failings highlight the unregulated nature of certain channels that host significant advertising activities. COFEK firmly believes that these channels have a powerful influence in shaping behavior among the Kenyan market.

Based on extensive research and consultations with experts, COFEK has found that browser providers like Opera have introduced a “speed dial” feature specifically designed for the Kenyan market. These features include links to betting operations, overlooking age restrictions for users.

COFEK is demanding that gambling operators cease promoting their services on Opera Mini without proper regulatory approval. Opera Mini, with its data-saving capabilities, has become increasingly popular in Kenya. However, this popularity poses a significant risk to minors who have internet access.

COFEK argues that advertising on the browser violates the Communication Authority of Kenya’s child online protection campaign, which aims to balance informational access for children with protection from potential harm.

These regulatory efforts are part of Kenya’s ongoing efforts to update gambling laws and increase revenue. The recent implementation of a 15 percent excise duty fee for advertising across all mediums, including gambling and alcoholic beverages, demonstrates Kenya’s commitment to this cause.

Despite objections from the Media Owners Association of Kenya, the government has moved forward with these measures. Njuguna Ndung’u, the National Treasury and Economic Planning Cabinet Secretary, has emphasized the harmful impact of gambling on children and families.

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