Mobile Gambling Money Transfers to be Permitted in Kenya

It has been confirmed that officials in Kenya have made amendments to the Gaming Bill 2019 to enable money transfers to be used as a method of payment for mobile gambling. Operators across Kenya may soon start offering this option to gamblers, but the changes also mean that credit card payments could be stopped. 

The amendments are being made by the Committee on Sport, Culture, and Tourism, and might be a response to the increased popularity of both mobile gambling and money transfers. Previously, only debit and credit cards or electronic bank payments could be used to fund mobile gambling activities. These were all methods that were approved by the Betting Control and Licensing Board when the bill came into force last year.

Controversy Over Payment Methods

When the bill first came out, there was a lot of controversy in relation to the payment methods that were approved. Many expressed their frustration at the lack of approval for money transfers given that this is a very popular form of payment in Kenya. As an example, in 2018 over $25 billion in payments was made through money transfers across all industry sectors. 

The changes to the bill mean that gamblers will be able to fund their mobile gambling activities with money transfers, which will mean far greater ease and convenience for many people. In addition, it will help to make life easier for mobile casino operators such as Betsafe Kenya, as they can offer a payment option that huge numbers of people are eager to use. 

What About Credit Card Payments?

The introduction of the bill in 2019 came with specific payment options that were approved by officials. Credit card payments were approved for mobile gambling, but this will change as part of the amendments. While money transfer will be added to the list of approved methods, credit cards will be removed although there are mixed reports over whether debit cards will still be approved for use.

Credit card use for mobile gambling has also been banned in other places such as Great Britain. There was huge concern over the risk of people getting themselves into a lot of debt by using this payment method. While other methods require gamblers to have the funds available already in order to gamble, credit cards enable them to use money that they do not have. For problem gamblers or those who get carried away, this can lead to years of high-interest debt. 

Additional Changes to the Bill

Amendments to the bill will also see some additional changes come in. One of these is an increase in the minimum amount that can be bet online, which will increase to KES100 from KES50. There has also been an increase in the maximum amount that may be issued as a fine for illegal bookmakers. This has gone up from KES1m to KES5m. An additional section has been added to the bill to specify that anyone found with documentation relating to illegal activity of this sort will be classed as operating an illegal gambling facility or platform. 

These changes were all scheduled for parliamentary debate in the middle of October. However, due to delays, this has now been moved to November 3rd. This is when the National Assembly returns from recess, so further details will be revealed once the debate in parliament has taken place. 

According to reports, Kenya is now the third-largest gambling market in Africa, with the two largest markets being Nigeria and South Africa. This is based on data from a 2019 survey carried out by PwC.

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