Kenya to amend Gaming Bill through Safaricom M-Pesa

The 2019 Gaming Bill has been revised by the Kenya’s National Assembly to include mobile money services as an accepted form of payment by gaming operators. Previously, the bill explicitly listed credit/debit cards, electronic bank transfers as permitted modes of payments, banning mobile money and cash transactions. The new decision is further showcasing the popularity of mobile money services in Kenya with about 58 million mobile money subscribers.

However, the Kenyan parliament is also thinking of banning credit/debit card modes of payment for gaming operators. This is criticised as a strategic move by the Kenyan government as it holds 35% shares in Safaricom, the owner of M-Pesa which possess 99% of the Kenyan mobile money market. Thus, by promoting mobile money and prohibiting other forms of payment in the 3rd largest gambling market in Africa, it will be indirectly beneficial raising the stakes of the government in the billion-dollar market.

Another amendment rendered by the Bill is the increase in minimum betting amount from KSh50 to KSh100. This increase is argued to reduce the interest in gambling and also help to detect unlicensed gaming operators. However, unlicensed gaming operators are always adapting their ways to provide illegal gambling and by freeing the market from illegal gaming operators, the Kenyan government is criticised to be enlarging the market opportunity for mobile money payment.