STATEMENT BY BOARD CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER MR. EZEKIEL MUTUA (MBS) ON BETTING AND GAMBLING ADVERTISEMENTS IN THE COUNTRY ISSUED ON FRIDAY AUGUST 5TH, 2016
In April 2016, the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) raised alarm over the proliferation of betting and gambling in the country, and called for responsible advertising to avoid misleading information that can lure children and other vulnerable groups into the craze.This was aimed at reducing the exposure of children to gambling advertisements, whose messages have the potential to mislead children and the youth into believing that betting in sweepstakes and lotteries is the only way to acquiring instant wealth.
At the time, the Board raised concern on the surging wave of betting and gambling, which was spreading rapidly to even residential estates. The Board indicated that young people were wagering considerable amounts of money, risking their lives in the process.Further, the Board noted that most betting promotions were not being conducted within the law, indicating that most betting promotions in the country are unregistered, and that some betting joints are doubling up as selling points for illegal drugs, besides promoting various forms of immoral behavior.
While these concerns remain valid, KFCB is happy to note that the National Assembly has responded to the challenges, initiating the process of developing legislation to contain the problems.The Board therefore welcomes Parliament’s decision to review gaming laws through the introduction of the Betting Bill in the House.On our part as a regulator, KFCB urges the media to adhere to established advertising guidelines by ensuring that all betting commercials are taken out of the watershed period.We also ask media houses to carry symbols, warning the public about the addictiveness of betting. Failure to disclose the addition and other associated proclivities is not only an unethical marketing practice but also morally wrong.
In this regard, KFCB is concerned about the grossly misleading portrayal of betting as an investment. This notion accounts for the reason why betting is spreading rapidly in the country, raising concerns about the safety of children and the youth who are being enticed by the allure of quick cash. Children are getting exposed to risky betting activities without the knowledge of their parents.As a regulatory agency, KFCB wishes to announce that we will continue to work with other regulatory bodies in the betting sector to ensure the safety of children.
In this effort, the Board is working closely with the National Police Service and the National Taskforce on Community Policing to examine the impact of betting on crime and insecurity in the country, seeking to find a sustainable solution. In this regard, the Board has jointly rolled out countrywide public sensitization forums targeting security officers and other leaders to help in mitigating the problem.
It is important to note that betting and gambling are among the wide ranging scope of moral depravities that pervade the nation due to infiltration of foreign cultures and ideologies promoted through film and media content.In these circumstances, betting, gambling and crime have been glorified through irresponsible advertising that deliberatively projects misleading messages in the media.
While it may be argued that betting generates income for both owners of betting joints and the participants, the associated negative effects are too dire to be overlooked. The dangers of the practice include economic and social issues.Betting and gambling can promote a culture of laziness, creating a generation of young people who do not believe in hard work. These young people have the potential of turning to other vices such as stealing to feed their insatiable craving for betting.
The Board therefore urges all pertinent authorities to work together on this issue so as to promote the welfare of the country in terms of security and national moral values. Ensuring compliance with content distribution regulations and proper enforcement of the law is one of the ways of making this a reality in Kenya.In most developed countries, gaming rules are stringent. Advertisements of all forms of gambling or betting are prohibited within the watershed period.In the United Kingdom, for example, advertising regulations were reviewed in 2014, prohibiting advertisements for gambling products during the watershed period to protect young people and vulnerable adults. Advertisements for junk foods were also taken away from the watershed period in the country’s national interest.
Judging by the rate at which betting joints are proliferating in the country, there is no doubt that Kenya is headed for a crisis, if timely action is not taken. We therefore need strict guidelines to regulate betting and gambling, which should include illegalizing betting promotions during the watershed. Such advertisements should be restricted out of the watershed period to protect children from exposure to and participation in gambling.On our part as KFCB, we are working to review the film and broadcast content regulatory framework, including regulations on advertising to safeguard national values.
While it is necessary to promote investment in the film and media industry, there must be clear policy guidelines to regulate the investments in order to minimize the negative impacts, specifically on the youth and children. KFCB seeks to achieve this through benchmarking with the best regulators regionally and globally.
In conclusion, we wish to appreciate the support we continue to receive from stakeholders in our bid to promote our national and moral values through regulation of film and broadcast content. We restate our commitment to work with every individual or organization that means well for the country to ensure a facilitative environment for doing business while at the same time preserving moral values.
Ezekiel Mutua, MBS
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER