Advances in technology will always see the morphing of previously offline services to the mobile channel due to its obvious ubiquity. Every industry has seen this shift, but with requisite structures done right to ensure service longevity and adherence to standards. The gaming sector however, seems to have been left behind and playing catch up with the result being; in my opinion a suppression of an industry that could actually deliver the much needed financial support for many social programs run by government and other well meaning Kenyans. The Betting Control and Licensing Board governs the authorization of lotteries and prize competition as well as eradication of illegal gambling activities in Kenya. It was established through an Act of Parliament (Chapter 131 Laws of Kenya of 1966). Here is how I would empower the board to meet its mandate using technology especially for mobile and online gaming.
Part Two and sections Ten, Eleven and Sixty Nine of the Act look at; books to be kept by licensee, submission of accounts by licensees and revenue to be paid into the consolidated fund. respectively. Governance carries with it the assumption of visibility and access to data that informs key decisions. Unfortunately, the board is blind on two of the three counts as it lacks real-time and verifiable gaming stats and instead relies on licensee submitted data; with many licensees running on non-audited platforms with a real risk of fraud and malpractice. The punitive measures for contravention are not deterrent.
10. Books to be kept by licensee
(1) A licensee shall enter or cause to be entered regularly in a book kept for the purpose all such particulars as may be prescribed.
(2) A licensee who contravenes subsection (1), or who knowingly or recklessly keeps any book, record or account required to be kept under this section which is false in any material particular, or who makes or causes to be made in any such book an entry which is false in a material particular, shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding ten thousand
The Board should, with additional backing from the Communications Authority move with speed to deploy platforms that will allow it firsthand access to data on demand across all active online and mobile gaming engagements.
11. Submission of accounts by licensees and permit-holders
(1) The Board may at any time, and shall, at least once in every twelve months, require a licensee to submit to the Board a properly audited statement of accounts.
(2) The Board may require a permit-holder, other than a holder of a permit issued under section 23, section 54 or section 58, to render accounts to the Board in such form and within such period as it may specify.
(3) The Board may require accounts submitted to it under this section to be the subject of audit by an accountant, whose appointment as auditor shall be notified by the licensee or permit-holder, as the case may be, to the Board and approved by it.
(4) A person who refuses or fails to submit a statement of accounts as and when required by the Board or who knowingly submits a false or misleading statement shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding ten thousand shillings or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or to both.
For many gaming scenarios, a percentage of gross proceeds is paid out to charitable organizations through a currently flawed process, with the consolidated fund handling the rest. A unique mix of KYC to verify the large number of possible beneficiaries – as registered by the Ministry; crowd sourced scoring on readily available old and new media channels, coupled with partnerships with industry bodies such as the Kenya Association of Manufactures, would hold great promise to correct a skewed process.
69. Revenue to be paid into Consolidated Fund
All moneys received or recovered under this Act by or on behalf of the Board by way of fees, shall be paid into the Consolidated Fund.
Taking these two actions, both of which leverage tech, will raise consumer confidence, drive participation and better empower the board to meets its mandate. Market dynamics and innovation will take care of the rest.