Betting control in Kenya and why BCLB is getting it all wrong on consumer protection, forcing use of M-pesa

A Sportpesa cake image for a past event

Betting control is a crucial aspect of responsible gambling. It includes measures put in place to ensure that individuals can engage in betting activities in a safe and controlled manner.

While some may question the need for betting control, its importance cannot be overstated. That is the essence behind the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB), which curiously operates under the office of the Head of Public Service. Historically, it has always operated under the Ministry of Interior.

One of the primary reasons for implementing betting control measures is to protect vulnerable individuals. This is particularly important for children and minors. This, indeed, is the reason COFEK successfully petitioned the High Court against Opera browser’s ‘Speed Dial” feature.


Gambling addiction is a real concern, and without proper control, it can have devastating consequences on individuals and their families.

Well managed, betting control helps to identify and support those who may be at risk, providing resources and assistance to prevent the development of addiction.

To achieve this feat, comprehensive and enabling legal framework is a prerequisite. Unfortunately for Kenya, we rely on colonial legislation to manage betting and gambling.

Betting control also plays a vital role in promoting fairness and integrity within the industry.

By implementing measures such as age verification and identity checks, it ensures that only eligible individuals can participate in betting activities. This helps to prevent fraud, money laundering, and other illegal activities.


Another reason why betting control is essential is to maintain public trust in the industry.

By enforcing regulations and ensuring transparency, it helps to create a level playing field for all participants. This, in turn, fosters trust and confidence among bettors, knowing that they are engaging in a fair and regulated environment.

It was in the spirit of building such regulations that BCLB called together its’ stakeholders on May 9, 2024.

The meeting was called so that gaming and gambling operators can comply with the Proceeds of Crime and Money Laundering Act, 2009; Address issues of immigration compliance since majority of the gambling firms are owned by foreigners from Bulgaria and other such countries.


Other issues included corporate social responsibility as well as taxation of the gambling activities.

The most contentious, it appears from our reading, that BCLB wants to gift Safaricom by transitioning from “gambling wallets” to use of Mpesa technology.

The single-sourced choice of Mpesa, coupl3d with their unreasonable pricing, is not only unlawful but unacceptable

What is not clear is why BCLB decided not to invite COFEK as a partner considering consumer issues are the centre of the entire industry.

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