In a panel entitled ‘Land of Opportunity?: The changing face of gaming in Kenya,’ – sponsored by PM Affiliates and BetGames.TV – at the SBC Digital – Africa event, four experienced professionals discussed the ‘unstable’ and ‘volatile’ nature of the Kenyan betting sector’s regulatory conditions.

Spencer Okach, regional managing director at BetLion, identified changes in financial legislation as one of the key reasons behind Kenya’s image as an unstable market for betting operators.

The country’s Finance Bill, Okach said, changes on a yearly basis, making it ‘very hard for people to plan,’ moving on to acknowledge that as the Bill is currency under review, the market is, at present, unpredictable.

Also commenting on Kenya’s regulations was Imran Bukhari, CEO of Truwave, who recommended that companies interested in launching in the country must be ‘nimble in terms of moving quickly’ to navigate regulatory hurdles.

He remarked: “Essentially, my observation would be that the companies who are nimble in terms of moving quickly, having the products which are the right fit for the market and have the ability to switch between – an ability to have maybe more than one – territories where they operate, are the ones who can negate the pressure.”

Okach also maintained that despite the regulatory setbacks, Kenya remains a ‘land or opportunity,’ saying: “If you compare it to other jurisdictions that I’ve seen, I don’t think there’s any outside South Africa that comes close to Kenya in terms of stability.”

Additionally, in comparison to other African markets, Okach noted that Kenya is ‘the market where people have accepted mobile money quite openly, and are willing to trust mobile money, and the telcos have done enough to ensure that that works,’ providing opportunities to operators and offsetting the volatile regulatory conditions.

Agreeing with Okach, Dominic Field, LiveScore Group’s country manager for Nigeria, pointed to the instability of Kenya’s regulatory background, but reiterated that the country still presented opportunities for operators.

Field argued that due to the ‘volatility of the regulatory environment,’ the market was best suited to ‘bigger’ organisations, which could better absorb the impact of a major legislative or financial shakeup, pointing to situations such as ‘changes to taxation,  bringing in various taxes, arguing with the telcos and freezing mobile payments,’ as examples of instability.

However, he also asserted: “If you’re going to come with a unique product, if you’ve got something that allows you to differentiate yourself in what is a very competitive field, then absolutely, I think it can be great.”

The importance of a product-centric approach to the Kenyan gaming space was reiterated by John Gordon, CEO of Incentive Games, who stated that product localisation is ‘recognised throughout the continent as how to do things well’.

“I think it comes down to product, and understanding the demographic, its understanding what the end user is using – the type of devices, the browser,” adding that ‘when it comes to African countries, Kenya is a huge opportunity’,” he added.

Taking place from 30 – 31 March, the SBC Digital – Africa event includes a diverse roster of speakers and sessions over two days, providing insight across igaming, affiliates, marketing, casino and more.

Full panel sessions can be found on demand here.