The Focus: Gam(bl)ing
Just a few months ago, Kenyan police walked in a gaming lounge in Kasarani centre, a residential area in Nairobi where they arrested a group of young boys playing FIFA. The officials claimed the activities in the lounge were of gambling and betting nature due to the fact that machines (Play Station Consoles) were being used.
The notion that video gaming in Kenya is a gambling activity does not only stop with the police but with many who misunderstand video games and its competitive side (Esports) as a betting craze that requires tight regulations. The BLG Cap 131 Act 2016 also does not spare Esports as it cites “Gaming” as part of the Betting and Lotteries industry. The Act cites Gaming as “playing a game of chance for winnings in money or sums of money worth” with a 50% tax rate of the revenue per month.
BETTING v. ESPORTS
Take an example of a match between Liverpool and Everton set to be played in the town of Liverpool, a bettor living in Nairobi will place his or her bet on the odds giving by the bookmaker. The bettor has no physical nor mental control to change the game, the bettor is simply waiting on the result of the game whereas, in Esports, the gamer has every control of the competition, he or she has the physical and mental push to win the game, the gamer controls the game.
Equating Esports to gambling is not only a total misunderstanding of what many young people in Kenya are doing but also a barrier to its growth in this region. Kenya is currently cementing itself as a huge market for competitive video games in the wider Eastern and Central region with further efforts to dominate the African region in specific games.
Strides have already been taken with Tekken 7, a fighting game where Kenya is seeking dominance in the region with two of our players competing at the Tekken World Tour events last year in Cape Town and Dubai. The University FIFA Series seeks to position Kenya as a top FIFA market in the region as competitive FIFA continues to grow globally.
Regulators and corporate entities should look deeper into the industry before making conclusions about Esports. Open conversations with industry players and competitors will also help understand Esports. We hope to see a future where we talk openly about our efforts and goals.
SAVANNA FGC SCHEDULE
With that, check out our 2020 Circuit schedule for Tekken 7 and Mortal Kombat 11 series of competitions set to start from January and end with a final in August. Visit our social media pages