Opera ordered to unblock betting firm Odibets on its website

Multinational technology firm Opera Software Ireland Limited has been ordered to unblock a local betting firm and allow its gamblers to access the site.

The Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) made the ruling last week saying that the tech firm has financially hurt Odibets by denying punters access and redirecting them to the sites of rival betting firms.

The decision comes at a time when betting firms have been barred from displaying advertisements on the speed dial feature of Opera, without approval from the betting regulator.

“Opera Software Ireland Limited is directed to, with immediate effect, cease and desist from causing financial harm by blocking Odibets from accessing its browser and from further redirecting its customers to other betting sites,”

– CAK says in the notice issued on Wednesday last week.

The competition watchdog says that the directive will be in force until the completion of an ongoing probe between the betting firm and Opera.

Opera had an estimated 13.5 million users in Kenya as of the end of last year, who largely use feature phones. Details of the matter being investigated have, however, not been disclosed at a time when betting firms have been put on the spot over their advertising overtures.

In January this year, the High Court directed the Betting and Licensing Control Board (BCLB) to ensure that betting firms do not use the speed dials feature to advertise online. BCLB had last year warned the firms from using the speed dial feature saying that this advertises betting services without regard to the age and vulnerability of internet users.

Odibets, owned by Kareco Holdings Limited is one of the 128 betting firms angling for a share of the multibillion-shilling gambling industry in Kenya. Kenya has one of the biggest betting industries on the continent, characterised by fierce competition among the companies.

Gamblers staked Sh620.97 billion in bets between 2018 and 2022, highlighting the craze that has made Kenya home to the highest percentage of young gamblers in Africa at 76 percent as of end of 2022.

The growth of betting has defied increased taxation on both punters and betting firms, with millions of unemployed Kenyans and the youth seeing gambling as a quick means of making cash, amid high rates of unemployment.

Source: businessdailyafrica.com

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