Ban on gambling, betting ads unconstitutional: High Court

Ban on gambling, betting ads unconstitutional: High Court

The High court has declared a decision to ban outdoor gambling and betting ads null and void.

According to Justice John Mativo, the ban was tainted with illegality and unreasonableness and procedural impropriety.

“I hold that the applicant has satisfied the conditions for granting the orders sought,” he ruled on Tuesday.

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In addition, a directive that any form of such advertisements be approved and contain a warning message about the consequences of gambling including its addiction was also quashed.

Justice Mativo noted that the provisions of section 4 of the sixth schedule, and the entire section 70 of the Act notes that the function in question is vested upon the Nairobi County Government and not the Ministry.

“It follows that the impugned decisions contained in the letter dated 30th April signed by one Liti Wambua and the communication dated Thursday may 2nd lack legal basis, hence it is ultra vires and therefore null and void. It is tainted with illegality. It cannot stand court scrutiny,” the court ruled.

The court noted that the impugned decision must be grounded on the law.

25 outdoor advertising companies had moved to court challenging the decision on gambling and betting ads issued by early this month.

The applicant challenged the impugned decision on grounds of irrationality and unreasonableness stating that the decision is intended to penalize a lawful activity.

“The decision prohibits outdoor advertising with immediate effect and yet it purports to invite views from stakeholders of the outdoor advertising industry on a decision that has already been made,” the applicants said.

They further argued that the decision is flout with the procedural impropriety because it seeks to limit the right of advertises in respect of betting, lotteries and gaming without reasonable justification.

The court was also told that betting companies contribute a substantial amount of revenue to the outdoor advertising industry and that some of its members have existing contracts and obligations to various betting companies, hence stand to suffer irreparable loss.

None of the respondents filed a response to the applicant hence the case was undefended.

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Story By Dzuya Walter
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