In a striking display of the betting enthusiasm that has swept across Kenya, gamblers placed bets totalling a massive Sh620.97 billion from 2018 to the last year. This figure, revealed in a report to the National Assembly Committee on Sports and Culture, underscores a growing trend that has firmly established Kenya as the African country with the largest percentage of young bettors.
The report sheds light on how betting has become widespread among Kenyans from various walks of life, with many turning to it in pursuit of quick financial gains, regardless of their employment status.
Kenya’s Youth: Leading African Gamblers
Kenya holds the record for the highest percentage of young gamblers in Africa, estimated at 76 percent. These young bettors not only outnumber their African counterparts but also spend more on average per bet. This trend persists despite increased taxation on winnings and stakes, indicating a resilient betting culture among the Kenyan youth.
The report noted: “Kenya has the highest percentage of young gamblers in Sub-Saharan Africa (76 percent), who outspend their peers on a per-capita basis, with 96 percent of them using mobile devices.”
Taxation Measures to Curb Gambling
In an effort to temper the betting frenzy, the Kenyan government has imposed a 12.5 percent tax on every betting stake and a 20 percent withholding tax on all winning bets. Betting firms are also subject to a 15 percent tax on their gross gaming revenue (the total turnover minus winnings paid out) and a 30 percent corporate tax on profits.
Betting’s Economic Impact in Kenya
Kenya’s betting market, worth an estimated Sh200 billion annually, ranks third-largest in Africa, following Nigeria and South Africa. Although the report does not detail annual stakes, it reveals that betting firms paid out Sh532.72 billion in winning bets and accrued Sh88.24 billion in gross gaming revenue between 2018 and 2022.
The typical Kenyan gambler is described as a male under 36 years old, from a low-income household, and with at least secondary school education. Many resort to betting as a means to supplement their income, driven by high unemployment rates and the need to meet daily expenses.
Rising Competition Among Betting Firms
The lucrative nature of the Kenyan betting market has attracted a surge in betting firms, especially online betting sites in Kenya. The latest figures from the Betting Control and Licensing Board indicate that out of 110 licensed betting firms, 22 are new entrants, all vying for a share of the billions wagered by Kenyans annually.