Cofek wins High Court case compelling BCLB to edge out betting firms on opera mini browser

The Consumers Federation of Kenya (COFEK) has won a legal battle compelling gaming regulator Betting Control & Licensing Board (BCLB) to remove betting and gambling firms from advertising on the “speed dial” feature found on Mini Opera internet browser.

The browser is run from Oslo, Norway. The firm has a multi-billion business with Kenyan companies which include Safaricom and elite betting companies in Kenya such as Odibets, Betika, Mozzart and Sportpesa.

The speed dial feature in Opera is a function that allows a user to have favorite websites on a start page, making it fast and easy to access them. It also allows one to create folders and group similar websites together.

Cofek had initially written to the BCLB demanding for action that such licensed firms be removed from the speed dial platform as it was hurting minors and forcing many unsuspecting children to be addicted to gambling and betting.

The speed dial feature provides a convenient way to access frequently visited websites. However, and as a result of this, it compromises internet safety practices by exposing minors who cannot avoid clicking on suspicious links or downloading unknown files from these sites.

Cofek sued BCLB, Communications Authority (CA), Attorney General, ICT cabinet Secretary and Kenya Revenue Authority. Others were Office of Data Protection Commissioner and the Competition Authority of Kenya.

Milestones Games Ltd, linked to Kasarani MP Ronald Karauri, had applied to be enjoined in the matter but their application is yet to be considered. It is unclear why Sportpesa wish to be enjoined yet they are not on the platform.


Milestone Games Ltd has, in the past, written nasty letters to BCLB. It is also said that Milestone Gaming officials having regularly engage in verbal assault on government officers who are perceived to toe their line.

The Cofek orders were obtained by way of consent among parties on January 16, 2024 before High Court Judge Lawrence Mugambi.

The Betting Control and Licensing Board is the regulatory agency responsible for overseeing the operations of all betting firms in Kenya.

BCLB responsibilities encompass guaranteeing conformity with legal mandates, granting licenses to operators, and implementing regulations intended to safeguard consumers from deceit and other forms of mistreatment.

Online advertisements can pose risks to minors, such as exposure to inappropriate content or sharing personal information with advertisers without parental consent.

Cofek has been working to sensitize parents to note and appreciate that it’s important for them to monitor what their children are viewing online and educate them about the potential dangers of online advertising.

Gambling Bill

Additionally, websites and apps that target minors should have strong privacy policies in place and adhere to regulations designed to protect children’s safety online.

It is such balances that speed dial feature by Opera Mini browsers have been lacking hence are easy targets for gaming addiction to children at a tender age.

Meanwhile the draft Gambling Control Bill, 2023 is ready though it remains unprinted. The Betting Regulatory Authority will replace BCLB which operates under the oversight of the office Head of Public Service Felix koskei.

Cofek will separately be seeking to oppose some of functions and composition of the proposed Regulatory Authority.

Kenya is putting in place the National Lottery which is projected to grow the gambling industry in a massive way – occasionally not a regulatory nightmare but a parenting challenge.

This I’m essence calls for a stricter regulation akin to that of tobacco industry. Warnings of adverse addiction will need to be prominently included in all forms of advertisements.

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