Kenyan court delays introduction of new gambling ad controls

21 May 2019

Kenya’s High Court has temporarily suspended an order by the country’s Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) that blocked celebrities from participating in gambling advertisements and promotions.

The ban, which was announced on April 30 by the BCLB, was due to come into force exactly one month later, with famous people barred from appearing in gambling-related adverts or marketing campaigns.

The BCLB had also sought to block outdoor advertisements of gambling and advertising on social media, as well as restricting television adverts of gambling to between 10pm and 6am.

However, High Court judge James Makau issued the order to pause the implementation of the ban after Kamau Wanjohi, better known as MC Moreydoc, filed a lawsuit against the BCLB, its chairman Cyrus Maina, chief executive Liti Wambua and the Attorney General.

Local media reports that Wanjohi argued his income would be severely affected by the ban, while adding that public feedback was not sought before the ban was imposed. He also argued that the definition of the word ‘celebrity’ in the BCLB’s order was too vague.

As a result Justice Makau issued a conservatory order staying the implementation of the new advertising restrictions. 

The BCLB is yet to comment on the development.

If the ban is ultimately implemented in Kenya, it will be the latest step taken by the authorities to curb the influence of gambling in the country.

Last September, Kenya’s Parliament turned down a recommendation by the country’s Finance and National Planning Committee to lower gaming tax in the country from 35% to 15%, despite concerns that the rate is hampering growth in the domestic gambling market.

In June 2017, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta signed off on a new law to raise the tax rate to a flat 35% across all forms of gambling.

Previously, bookmakers had paid a 7.5% tax rate, while lotteries were taxed at 5%, casino gambling faced a 12% rate and competitions such as raffles were taxed at 15%.