While other gambling activities are regulated by the government and generate revenue for the government, legal and other industry experts have expressed concerns about an increase in gambling via bill numbers by players, including including FM radio stations.
It is therefore no coincidence that on the same day, the Media Council of Kenya (MCK) formed a working group to review betting and related activities in the media, the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) sternly warned them that they risked fines for unauthorized lottery promotion.
There is a frenzy of FM radio stations engaging in what is, without a doubt, gambling. Earlier this year, MCK was forced to call for action against media houses that engage in gambling. to illegal betting and rob Kenyans. MCK Managing Director David Omwoyo lamented that some of the media houses were luring Kenyans into bogus betting activities.
The working group includes prominent media professionals and will address all emerging issues, best practices and their impact on the media industry. But since the issue is cross-cutting, include relevant state agencies – such as the BCLB, the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) and the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA). Agencies must confirm whether client promotions in the media are legitimate and whether winners are fairly selected and rewarded.
Many community and even national FM radio stations organize gambling or betting activities, which is against the law as they do not have the required licenses. They have to choose between play and broadcast. While the quest for sustainability pushes stations to become aggressive in seeking money, this should not be done through non-existent and illegal betting that steals their audience.
More appalling is the silence of communications regulators, such as CA. It is important to note that each lottery is supposed to donate 25 percent of its winnings to charity. Do they? Are they even taxed?
In 2018, the National Treasury imposed a 15 percent tax on betting companies and another 20 percent withholding tax on winnings.
He continued to slap the industry with more taxes – like 20 percent excise duty on stakes, in addition to corporate tax. Several betting companies have gone out of business amid a long-standing tax dispute with KRA after the Treasury imposed a 10 percent excise tax on winnings, which was then raised to 20 percent.
Radio stations appear to have an unfair advantage over registered betting companies, as do gaming companies that do not have offices or pay taxes. Ironically, as they pay daily winnings of over 20 million shillings, KRA struggles to meet their revenue target of 1.77 trillion shillings as betting ruins our youth, Kenya’s future.
On average, the radios have more than six invoice numbers. The games have no customer service contact or location. Who regulates them? Why do some have different names? Where is the due diligence role of telecom operators? Are they classified as gaming sites?
Mr. Masava is a communications specialist. [email protected]