Betting Regulator Enforces Court Order Against Speed Dial Feature On Internet Browsers

This action by the betting regulator marks a victory for the Consumer Federation of Kenya (COFEK) and consumers following a petition filed by the consumer lobby.

The Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) has initiated the enforcement of a High Court order prohibiting all gaming operators from utilizing the speed dial feature on internet browsers, primarily provided by the Opera Mini Browser and Google.

This action by the betting regulator marks a victory for the Consumer Federation of Kenya (COFEK) and consumers following a petition filed by the consumer lobby.

In a letter dated February 16, 2024, BCLB Director Peter Mbugi instructed all gaming operators to adhere to the board’s directive promptly. Failure to comply will result in the regulator pursuing contempt of court charges against them.

Mbugi’s letter referenced the Board’s circular dated August 11, 2023, regarding the use of the ‘speed dial’ feature on internet browsers, as well as a court order issued by the High Court in Nairobi on January 16, 2024.

“We make reference to the Board’s circular REF: BCLB 8/71 VOL.1 (157) dated 11th August 2023 on the use of ‘speed dial’ feature on the internet browsers. We further make reference to a court order issued by the High Court at Nairobi in the above-stated matter on 16th January 2024. This is therefore to direct that you cease with immediate effect, the use of the ‘speed dial’ feature on all internet browsers,”  – Mbugi stated.

Mbugi also cautioned that those who fail to comply will face appropriate legal action.

“Failure to comply with the board’s directive shall lead to the commencement of the necessary processes as stipulated under Section 4 (1) (b) of the Betting Lotteries and Gaming Act, CAP 131 of the laws of Kenya in compliance with the order issued by the High Court. Be informed accordingly,”  –  Mbugi warned.

COFEK raised concerns in their petition, alleging that betting firms were exploiting the feature to target Kenyan internet users indiscriminately, irrespective of age.

Affected gaming companies include Betika, OdiBets Kenya, Sportpesa, Peteta, and 1XBET Kenya, among others.

COFEK expressed in a letter to BCLB:

“Based on our research and consultations with line experts, we hereby confirm that browser providers, such as Opera, have introduced a “speed dial” feature, specifically curated for the Kenyan market. This offending feature, sponsored by betting firms (your licensees), ensures these betting services are prominently displayed, regardless of the user’s age, religion and other diversities.”

The speed dial feature in a browser presents visual thumbnails of the user’s frequently visited websites, allowing quick access to these sites with a single click.

COFEK emphasized that the continuous display of betting advertisements posed a significant risk to millions of underage citizens who could access smart devices intermittently, with or without permission from parents or guardians.

For example, COFEK pointed out that a browser like Opera Mini had introduced a speed dial feature tailored for Kenya, displaying five to seven shortcuts to leading betting firms on any given day.

BCLB acknowledges that gaming operators adopted the speed dial feature, resulting in the prominent display of betting services without considering the age, vulnerability, and other diversities of internet users.


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