BCLB on the spot over delay in issuance of licenses

The Member of Parliament for Embakasi West, Mark Mwenje, has called out the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) over the delay in the issuance of licenses.

Mwenje is seeking a response from the Interior Cabinet Secretary, Kithure Kindiki, on why the licensing process, which should take six months, is taking longer.

He wants to know when the BCLB Board will resume the processing of new and pending applications, including licenses that the Board had cleared for renewal for the year 2022/2023.

Mwenje is also seeking information on measures instituted to ensure that the board has ceased to process and issue licenses with an expiration date of June 30, 2023, so that any dealers applying for renewal of licenses in the next financial year will not be required to submit current licenses as proof of compliance.

In response, Kindiki is expected to answer the questions through the Departmental Committee on Administration and Internal Security.

This comes after former Interior CS Fred Matiang’i directed the Board to ensure that betting and gaming firms have been cleared by the Kenya Revenue Authority, the Financial Reporting Centre, and the Interagency security team before being licensed to operate.

Out of 59 firms cleared to operate last year, only 35 had paid the fee and provided a KES 250,000 bank guarantee by November of 2022. Some of the firms that had been licensed to operate in the year to next June include Betika, Sportika, Dafabet, Betafriq, and Bangbet.

Despite the government clampdown in the form of increased taxation and tighter regulation, the number of betting firms has been on the rise. Some 118 firms were licensed to operate in the year that ended last June from 100 in January, even as the average amount spent by punters continues to decline in the wake of the increased taxes.

The average amount spent to bet per punter declined to KES 939 last year from KES 2,559 in 2019, while the percentage of gamblers who rely on betting to pay daily bills fell by half to 11.2 percent in the period under review.

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