NAIROBI, KENYA: The government has cracked whip on betting companies barring them from using celebrities in endorsing their activities.
In a letter to all betting, lotteries and public gaming licenses, the National Betting and Licensing Board banned outdoor advertising of gambling, advertising of gambling on all social media platforms, advertising gambling between 6 am and 10 pm.
“We wish to remind you that gaming has a potential to harm the consumer with a possibility of leading to addiction as well as some disorder,” said the Board.
“We therefore as a regulator of the industry has a duty to protect its customer, members of the public, the young and vulnerable,” the Board adds.
The Board said it will be the approving authority on any form of advertisement of gambling. The advertisement also will have to contain a warning message, which must constitute a third of the actual advertisement and be of the same font.
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The new arrangement is likely to affect several betting companies and media houses in the country. Betting firm Betin already has a contract with MacDonald Mariga as its brand ambassador.
The contract entails having Mariga, a European based star, image in Betin’s billboards, Televisions and print newspaper adverts.
Mariga has a football career spanning 12 years. He started off playing for Ulinzi Stars before joining Tusker FC. He then went on to represent Kenya Pipeline while still in school.
The central midfielder then moved to Sweden for two years before moving to Italy, where he won the Champions League medal under Jose Mourinho at Inter Milan.
In March 2010, Mariga became the first Kenyan to play in the UEFA Champions League when he came on as a substitute against Chelsea in the Round of 16, and against Barcelona in the semi-final
Mariga becomes the second former international to sign such a deal with a betting company after Betway, another bookmaker, signed up Dennis Oliech.
In 2016, online betting firm betway entered into a one-year deal with ex-Harambee Stars football team captain Dennis Oliech, making him their official ambassador.
The deal entailed Oliech, a former FC Nantes and AC Ajaccio striker representing Betway in various functions around the country.
As of 2017, there were close to 50 licensed betting firms in Kenya. Of this, 30 are operational and use mobile money as a payment channel.
According to Betway Kenya Country Manager Wanja Gikonyo, betting companies paid over Sh4.7 billion in corporate taxes in 2016.
The Thursday decision by the Board is also likely to draw mixed reactions from media companies also known to draw revenue from the betting companies