Recently, a Kenyan judge has canceled the gambling ad ban, KFGo reports. Why did he believe it was necessary to uplift the ban? Let’s find out.

Kenyan ban

Kenya allows online gambling. Until recently, it was legal to promote gambling as well. However, the government decided to create a new piece of regulation to stop people from advertising the gambling industry.

The motivation was simple, the government officials believe that ads cause the young and the poor to gamble more than they can afford. It became a common thing to say in Africa that gambling is evil, and people cannot control themselves while placing a bet.

Kenya did a much wiser thing than Uganda and prohibited advertising gambling instead of banning the industry as a whole.

The case

The ban on ads didn’t go unnoticed. It got legally challenged in the court. A Kenyan celebrity, Muriji Kamau Wanjohi, appealed to the high court, claiming the ban is irrational and unreasonable.

His main argument was that the ban stripped him of his livelihood. It’s not only the poor and the youth who are affected, Muriji says, but the advertisers as well. He earned a living promoting casinos for real money as a musician. With the ban in force, Muriji saw a significant decrease in the number of clients.

Now, he was experiencing difficulties with getting money because of the ban. Strangely enough, the high court judge has satisfied his appeal. He ruled that the ban was indeed irrational, and effectively uplifted the bill.

Celebrity vs. the poor

The case for the repeal of the ban is controversial, to say the least. For one thing, it gives back the market freedoms to do whatever you need to earn a living. There’s no justification for taking that away from Africans.

But doesn’t that freedom come at a price? Essentially, the judge reimbursed the right of a rich man, a celebrity singer, to make more money even though this may come at the expense of the poor.

What’s the ethical way to do this? There’s no right answer.

The gambling crisis

The authorities are afraid there’s a gambling crisis going on in Kenya. The youth and the poor, the two categories of people who need savings the most fall for gambling as a way to earn a fortune and never work a day in their lives.

Some natives report working long hours only to spend all the money they’ve earned to win back previous losses. Getting caught in a vicious circle like this is no fun.

But can an advertising ban help? Most people already know what gambling is, and won’t be tempted to play even if a celebrity promotes it. Those who have a gambling problem will play regardless of ads.

The judge has overturned an irrelevant bill based on a questionable case, so justice is served. The Kenyan government has a long way to go before they will be able to control problem gambling, but it’s not going to include bans.