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City assembly seeks to restrict gambling hours for youth sake

Waithera Chege, Deputy Majority Chief Whip during the International Women’s Day event dubbed, ‘Women Must Lead’ at Signature Auditorium in Nairobi. [Wilberforce Okwiri,Standard]

You could soon be prohibited from betting between 6am to 8pm should an amendment to the law be approved by the Nairobi County Assembly. The proposed law also seeks to ban the public from using mobile phones to gamble. The Nairobi City County Betting, Lotteries and Gaming (Amendment) Bill 2021, sponsored by South B MCA Waithera Chege, seeks to protect productive human hours by restricting gambling.

“I have observed the operations of betting and gaming establishments in the county for a while now. I believe something must be done to curtail the hours spent in these establishments by our youth if we are to secure our future as a county,” said Ms Waithera while tabling the Bill in the assembly.

“I shall be proposing that the county and National Licensing Board limit the operating hours of these establishments so as to help protect productive hours among the citizenry and avoid wastage of time by some of our youth who are sadly now addicted to gambling and spend a lot of time at these establishments,” she added.

She said whereas national and county governments had passed legislation to regulate the sector - which is a source of livelihood, and which has experienced rapid growth over the last decade - there was need to do more.

Currently, the Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Act, 2018 and Nairobi City County Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Act, 2021 have established Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Control Boards, which complement each other and are tasked with various functions, including implementation of national policies, norms and standards in relation to betting, lotteries and gaming activities. “For clarity, with the passing of this proposal to amend the County Betting Act, 2021, we seek to further regulate this sector and not to totally do away with betting and gaming. I acknowledge that the sector also plays a key role in contribution of revenue for both levels of government,” said Waithera, who is also the Deputy Majority Chief Whip.

The proposal also seeks to regulate mobile betting and have cashless transactions to reduce money and time spent in gambling establishments by youth.

Further, the proposal seeks to ban advertising within the vicinity of betting and gaming establishments. According to data by Geopoll, a research company based in the US, 76 per cent of young Kenyans had at some point engaged in gambling as of March 2017.

The survey looked at betting among young people in Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.

It indicated how Kenyan youth, compared to millennials from other sub-Saharan countries, placed more bets, spending an average $50 (approximately 5,100) per month on bets that were predominantly football-based.

The survey sampled 3,879 respondents aged between 17 and 35 across the six countries, of which 1,130 were in Kenya.

It also emerged that the advertising frenzy by betting firms and jackpot success stories greatly contributed to the trapping of the youth, who now view betting as a way of making fast money.

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