Tighter Measures For Sports Betting In Africa

Sports Betting

According to News Outlet Africa, The Betting, Lotteries and Gaming (Amendment) Bill, 2016 is currently before Parliament for debate. The proposed law, sponsored by Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo, seeks to crack down on the gaming industry by introducing stringent measures such as banning advertising for betting firms, capping the maximum wager on sports betting platforms at Sh200 and requiring all funds made from gambling to be deposited into a bank account, among others.

This is not the first time Midiwo has taken such a combative stance against the gaming industry. He has been stubbornly persistent. In mid-2016, Midiwo proposed the establishment of a Select Committee to probe the activities of sports betting firms. However, MPs unanimously shot down the proposal. The House was convinced that such unfettered interference in private business’ operations would not only cripple legitimate gaming firms, but also undermine the role sports betting firms play in nurturing local sporting talent. These convictions were spot on.

Sports betting firms have been uniquely instrumental in nurturing sporting talent in Kenya in recent years. They have helped reverse unemployment by proposing professional sports as an alternative and rewarding career path for many Kenyans who can’t access formal jobs but are blessed with sporting talent.

The role of sports betting firms in nurturing sporting talent is particularly evident in the Kenyan Premier League. SportsPesa in 2015 unveiled a million-dollar sponsorship of the KPL. Individual clubs have also received support from sports betting firms. For instance, Betway in October announced that it would sponsor Mathare United FC.

By tapping the potential of sports betting firms through strategic legislative interventions, Kenya is taking progressive steps in its bid to nurture sporting talent. Midiwo, however, wants to take us back with the retrogressive betting law. It must be rejected on this basis.

The proposed law also has other inherent flaws that cannot be overlooked. The underlying logic behind the law is that making betting more inaccessible will result in less gambling, fewer cases of addiction and hence protection of bettors from financial ruin. This logic, convincing as it is, is greatly erroneous.

What drives gambling is not the availability of betting platforms, which the proposed law seeks to reduce, but rather the love of sports. Gambling is part of the modern sporting experience. As long as Kenyans throng sports bars in the weekend to catch the latest game, betting will be an innate part of their entertainment routine. The only question is whether people will bet through licensed and professional firms, which advocate for responsible betting, or whether they will go through the black market, which has no ethical code.