Betting board bans gambling adverts, celebrity endorsements

A billboard advertising a popular sports betting site is seen along a highway in Nairobi, on November 8, 2017. The popularity of football, among other sports betting is fast rising across Kenya and Africa in unprecedented fashion, with a share of the unemployed seeking out the new craze as a substitute for employment aided by the ease of betting on mobile phone applications. / AFP PHOTO / TONY KARUMBA (Photo credit should read TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)
A billboard advertising a popular sports betting site is seen along a highway in Nairobi, on November 8, 2017.
The popularity of football, among other sports betting is fast rising across Kenya and Africa in unprecedented fashion, with a share of the unemployed seeking out the new craze as a substitute for employment aided by the ease of betting on mobile phone applications.(Photo: TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)

Kenya’s betting control board has dealt a blow to the flourishing gambling industry with a raft of new measures it says are meant to protect the public from addiction.

In a directive issued on April 30, the board banned many forms of advertising that have been helping gambling firms woo clients.

They include outdoor and social media adverts, TV ads from 6am to 10pm, and endorsement of bets and their firms by celebrities.

“It has further been decided that any form of advertisement of gambling must be approved and such an advertisement must contain a warning message about the consequences of gambling including its addictiveness,” said Liti Wambua, Betting Board’s acting director.

The warning message, Mr Wambua said, “must constitute a third of the actual advertisement and be of the same font”.

If implemented to the letter, the new rules will bar local celebrities such as Macdonald Mariga, Joey Muthengi, Janet Wanja, and Carol Radull from appearing in gaming related adverts.

“We wish to remind you that gaming is a demerit good and all demerit goods have the potential to harm the customer with the possibility of leading to addiction as well as some disorder,” Mr Wambua said.

The new rules come barely a month after Interior Minister Fred Matiang’i ordered the board to oversee that betting firms comply with the rules.

“To show that we are serious, all betting licences in the country stand suspended effective July 1, 2019 unless the holders pay all their taxes,” Dr Matiang’i said on April after meeting the board.

He said some betting companies take advantage of and are exploiting Kenyans, especially the youth.

The minister said up to 76 percent of young people in Kenya are involved in gambling.

The new regulations are likely hit the betting industry hard, coming amidst a protracted court battle over taxation of winnings.