Thursday, November 11, 2010

Kenya - Providers call for regulations for mobile gambling, since the service is becoming available

[business daily] Do you gamble? Well, if you ask many Kenyans, they will give you a straight No, mainly because of the limited understanding of what it means or the numerous ways in which they participate but simply assigning different names or mental blocks to it.

In the mobile world, as consumers seek more utility from their mobile phones and revenues from traditional voice and SMS take a hit, companies are hard at work crafting new concepts for services to woo the mobile subscriber. One of the mobile services is mobile lottery and the country has been taken by storm by a string of high value lotteries that will see more than Sh300 million in cash and prizes given away in the span of six months.

Mobile lottery is big even on the global arena with potential for rapid growth as the barriers to adoption, biggest of which, is cultural are diminished. Global estimates put the market value of mobile gaming and lotteries at around $1000 billon.

No surprises as to why broadcasters, value added service providers and mobile operators have made a mad rush into the space. There are four main flavours of mobile gaming - lotteries, quiz-based or skill-based games, sports betting, casino style games and betting exchanges.

While the current market models in Kenya use premium SMS and a quiz-based model, online and mobile application gaming is yet to go mainstream.

With numerous payment platforms coming into the market, I believe that is just a matter of time before this too takes off as one can play or participate without having to go out and purchase a physical ticket. That said, the Kenyan gaming and gambling market is still plagued by issues that need to be addressed if we are to see the market grow. We should develop appropriate legislation to ensure proper control and regulation of the market lest it be open up to abuse and exploitation.

Online gambling for example is not allowed in Kenya as there is no supporting law, but that doesn't prevent enterprising Kenyans from opening shop and running those services. This leads to loss in revenue to the government as these services operate under the radar.

Certification of the platforms used to deliver these services must also be put in place to avert fraud. In other markets for example, agencies exist that certify the platforms used to deliver services; ensuring they perform as they should with random checks. The establishment of such an agency or standards body will lend legitimacy and confidence to the industry thereby encouraging more and more mobile subscribers to participate.

The privacy and convenience of the mobile phone coupled with changes in social perceptions and availability of multiple payment options will see industries attract massive investments. Done right, the end user will be spoilt for choice. The taxman too will benefi

We Are Entering Mobile Gaming Space, Prepare Laws

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