Bets below Sh50 on online gambling will be declared illegal if the proposed Gaming Bill that seeks to curb betting is enacted into law.
Currently, gamblers stake less than Sh5 on sites like BetPawa, Elite Bet, BetYetu fuelling the rapid growth of online gambling among the young and vulnerable seeking millions in prize money.
Those in breach of the Sh50 cap in bets face a fine of not less than Sh5 million or a jail term not exceeding six years, says the Gaming Bill — which is currently under debate in Parliament.
Giant gaming firms like SportPesa, Betin and Betway that have operations beyond Kenya have restricted their minimum stake to Sh50.
“A player in an online gaming activity shall not bet an amount of less than Sh50 in a competition,” says the Bill.
“Those who engage in an online gaming activity for an amount than that prescribed under subsection (1) commit an offence and shall be liable upon conviction to a fine of not less than Sh5m or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six years.”
The proposed law seeks to establish a real-time monitoring system accessible to the telecommunications sector regulator, the Communications Authority of Kenya, to facilitate remote tracking of gaming transactions.
The gaming industry in Kenya has grown substantially over the last five years to Sh200 billion ($1.98 billion) from Sh2 billion, employing 5,000 people in the process, official data say.
Gambling in Kenya generally takes place online, notably through mobile phones. Services like M-Pesa by Safaricom allow users to place bets, pay off losses and get winnings on their phone without needing a bank account.
Industry executives say about seven million out of 45 million Kenyans have registered for betting services.
Kenya is imposing a new tax on betting firms and gamblers as well as restricting advertising of gambling including a ban between 6am and 10pm as will the endorsement by celebrities to curb the growth in the industry.
A recent survey by Geopoll shows that 76 per cent of Kenyan youth are engaged in betting — the highest in Africa underlining the gambling craze that has hit the country.
The report shows the youths, a majority who are jobless spend an average of Sh5,000 on betting per month.