Sports Betting in Kenya Is Booming, but for How Long?

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For years now Kenya has been experiencing a huge surge in both online and land-based gambling. Sports betting in Kenya has been booming in particular. With a number of nearby countries recently setting new restrictions on gambling, how long will this new surge last?

There’s no doubt that the gambling industry is doing great in Kenya. Let’s take a look at the most recent updates on the situation.

2019 Online Gambling Laws in Kenya

The first set of Kenyan gambling laws were established all the way back in 1966. With these laws came the Betting Control and Licensing Board which is still the governing body responsible for licensing and regulating all forms of gambling here. In the early 2000s, officials in Kenya opened up a state-run gambling site that locals could access.

Within a few years, the country’s only online gambling site closed for business, and Kenyans began flocking to online gambling sites based in Europe to make their bets. The government here technically bans these sites that haven’t been licensed, yet there haven’t been any reports of players prosecuted for playing on sites based abroad.

Kenya has technically set legislation to collect revenue from foreign gambling sites. Nearby Uganda has recently closed the door on foreign gambling websites, but for now, Kenya seems open to allowing these websites to operate inside the country.

The Growth of Online Sports Betting in Kenya

After Kenya’s state-run sports betting website closed down, locals here began making their wagers through foreign sites. SportPesa has been the most popular online gambling site in Kenya over the past few years.

Sports gambling has become so popular in Kenya that 11 of the top 20 Google searches here mention it.

That’s right. More than half of all Google searches here mentioned gambling. Over 50% of Kenyan youth claimed to gamble in 2017, a statistic much higher than any nearby country. That number jumped to over 70% in 2018.

Mobile gambling has been one of the most popular ways to bet here. Kenya has one of the highest mobile penetration rates in Africa. GeoPoll claims that 96% of all online bets here were made using a phone.

Most Kenyans claim to bet once per week. Soccer is the most popular sport to bet on. Soccer betting searches also made up a few of the top Google searches last year. This nation is now estimated to have the third-largest gambling industry in Africa, after Nigeria and South Africa.

Future of Gambling Inside Kenya

While gaming operators within Kenya and abroad are likely happy with the surge in betting here, some questions remain over the future of the industry. As we mentioned earlier, the regulations on internet gambling here are loose.

One possibility is that the Betting Control and Licensing Board here will revamp legislation to tax foreign gambling sites. Not long ago, The Kenyan President signed a new bill that taxes online sites by 35%. The high tax rate is clearly keeping these websites from taking the steps to acquire a license.

Another option would be to once again launch their own state-run gambling website. It’s unclear why the previous site shut down in the first place. There are a huge number of gamblers here that wager through SportPesa. Attracting gamblers to their own site would help the government earn revenue.

Some politicians are now calling for a complete ban on foreign gambling sites. These sites are profiting massively from the increase of sports betting in Kenya. This strategy could be risky and may push local bettors here to wager through unlicensed sites even more than they already do.

For now, sports betting in Kenya is surging. The industry isn’t likely to slow down here unless the government begins implementing some new laws.

What do you think is in store for the Kenyan gambling industry? Should the government begin denying licenses to foreign sites? Let us know what you think in the comment section below!

Kevin Oldroyd

A longtime sports and gambling enthusiast, Kevin looks to present up-to-date and reliable information for readers. If he’s not writing, he’s probably watching MMA or playing blackjack. ...

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