The Betting and Licensing Board will continue to play a role in creating and enabling an environment for investment without compromising its obligations to the public, says Dr. Jane Makau.
In her keynote today, Dr. Jane Makau, the Chair for the Betting Control and Licensing Board in Kenya, thanked the SiGMA Group for choosing Kenya to host their inaugural debut in Africa, going on to welcome the delegates to Nairobi; ‘the pride of Africa’.
She went on to say that the SiGMA expo provides an opportunity for investors and players in the gaming industry to discuss emerging trends and identify opportunities, experience new gaming products, and do business in Kenya.
Representing Cabinet Secretary Prof. Kithure Kindiki, her keynote focused on the necessity of ensuring a conducive environment for businesses to flourish responsibly. She urged delegates to explore what Kenya has to offer as an ‘investment hub in the region and as a tourism destination’.
Although it’s still early days for Kenya’s gaming industry, Dr. Makau believes that advancing technology and globalisation have propelled the sector forward. As a result, new tech tools, coupled with healthy mobile phone penetration have made it ‘more accessible, available and affordable’ – allowing them to bet anywhere, anytime.
Traditional brick-and-mortar casinos, she said, were out of reach to many – resulting in very little interaction between gambling and the general public.
She cautioned, however, that in most cases regulations have not kept pace with this development.
Gambling is a demerit good, and like other similar goods, such as alcohol and tobacco has the potential to not only harm but ruin the consumer if not tackled responsibly, she said. The industry has also been subject to scrutiny the world over, carrying baggage from its colourful past.
“Accessibility and affordability must be heavily regulated. We believe rigorous and effective regulation is a hallmark of the gambling industry. A strong regulatory environment is essential to maintain the integrity of the business.”
Gambling technology is so dynamic that regulations that experience fast adoption are no longer practical in achieving their intended aim, she said, going on to call for a continuous review of regulations for the betterment and growth of the industry.
Despite this, she is positive in her belief that ‘if well regulated, gambling has significant benefits for the economy through employment creation, revenue generation, and tourism stimulation.’ Security, integrity, and fairness are key to maintaining integrity, she said. Appropriate controls must be in place to protect the vulnerable.
“The government of Kenya recognises gambling as a legitimate consumer pastime that thrives in a heavily regulated environment, as a result, the Betting and Licensing Board will continue to play a role in creating and enabling an environment for investment without compromising its obligations to the public. We care about the consumer as much as we care about the investors.”
In her closing remarks, she expressed her hope that SiGMA would choose Kenya again in 2024.