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Economy

Betting agency revives suit that quashed tough advertising regulations

Gamblers in a betting shop in Nairobi
Gamblers in a betting shop in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Betting and Licensing Board has petitioned the court to revive a suit that led to the quashing of regulations that banned advertising outdoors and on social media.

The board — the industry regulator — says the court decision that declared the regulations null and void was made without its participation and input.

The May 2 regulations banned the advertising of gambling between 6am and 10pm as well as the endorsement by celebrities in a bid to curb the sharp rise in betting that the State says has become a problem for the youth and the poor.

“The case proceeded to judgment without our participation, we, therefore, seek that this matter be revived for fresh litigation and determination,” the board said in the court documents.

The regulator had been listed as a party in the case but failed to file responses to the case whose judgment was issued nearly two months ago.

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On May 28, Justice John Mativo ruled that the directive on banning advertisement on betting and gambling was not procedural and reasonable.

Under the quashed rules, any gambling advertising will need the regulator’s approval and will be required to contain a warning message, which must constitute a third of the advertisement.

Investors and betting firms had until June 30 to comply with the new regulations or face closure, the State had warned.

The rules were meant to curb the growth in gambling, which has grown rapidly over the past five years, raking in Sh200 billion in annual sales, according to official data.

In April, the Interior ministry said betting had become a problem, especially among the youth, arguing that 54 percent of Kenyans involved in betting were low-income earners.

The Outdoor Advertising Association of Kenya, the umbrella body for advertising agencies in the country, protested to court over the regulations.

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