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Brief History of Gambling in Kenya

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If you’ve ever explored the history of gambling, you’ll know that it’s almost as old as humanity itself. The fact of the matter is that the earliest signs of gambling can be seen throughout all the historic periods, across various continents and nations.

That’s why it comes as no surprise that even to this day, gambling makes a huge part of many nations’ culture and entertainment. Of course, Kenya is no exception. Kenya is actually considered to be one of the largest African gambling markets. As such, it is estimated that this market was worth well over $40 million in 2020.

But many people are still surprised that a developing country such as Kenya makes for such a huge portion of the current gambling industry. But if we take a look at the history of gambling in Kenya, it will become quite obvious how this country rose to the place it’s currently at.


Gambling laws were established in Kenya back in 1966. This was done through the Betting Lotteries and Gaming Act of the United Kingdom. That’s when the Betting Control and Licensing Board (KBC LB) was formed under the bill. The main purpose of the Betting Control and Licensing Board (KBCLB) was to regulate and license all gambling activities in Kenya.

After the bill was passed, land-based casinos started opening in all major cities across the country, reaching a total of 30 casinos overall.

Kenyan gàmbling market

As mentioned previously, the Kenyan gàmbling market is huge. Even though it was estimated to be worth $40 million in 2020, the market continued to experience quite a significant growth in 2021. Nowadays, Kenya is the third country in Sub-Saharan Africa – right after South Africa and Nigeria – when it comes to the market size. However, even though it holds the third place market size-wise, it has the highest number of gamblers in the region – particularly young ones. What this means is that young Kenyans spend money on gàmbling far more than other African youth.

A gàmbling activity that mostly dominates the Kenyan market is sports bètting, but that’s not to say that other gàmbling activities are not present as well. Naturally, just like in many other African countries, football is the most popular sport Kenyans choose to bet on.

Right after sports bètting, poker and online casino games are the next preferred gaming activities. However, these two sectors are yet to reach the levels of popularity sports bétting boasts with.

Sports Bétting

Since sports bètting plays such a huge role in the Kenyan gàmbling scene, it comes as no surprise that this sector brings in a combined revenue of about $2 billion. With around 30 established sportsbooks and such a large combined revenue, Kenya really took advantage of the sports’ popularity in general. The first sportsbook that ever entered the market was SportPesa back in 2013.

Nowadays, SportPesa is still one of the most popular bétting platforms in Kenya. So much so, in fact, that about 82% of Kenyan gamblers state that they’ve had or still have an account with this sportsbook. Aside from SportPesa, Betin, Elitebet, Betika, Mcheza, and Betpawa are all quite popular choices.


Since we’re talking about the overall brief history of gàmbling in Kenya, we simply can’t fail to mention the casino scene as well.

The land-based casino market is also quite active. As mentioned previously, all of the 30 established land-based Kenyan casinos are mostly located in larger cities. The Casino Flamingo, the Mayfair Casino, the Captain’s Club in Nairobi, the Golden Key Casino and the Senator Casino in Mombasa are just some of the most famous Kenyan casinos.

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Naturally, some of the most popular games played in these casinos include Blackjack, poker and roulette, with slots following close by. In fact, it’s estimated that there are around 1300 slot machines throughout the country, which is quite impressive.

Apart from the land-based casinos, Kenyans can also try their luck in numerous online casinos. And with so many options, sites such as casinos-online.co.ke created a list of some of the best offers available.

How the Kenyan market grew

In order to further explore all of the reasons why Kenyan gàmbling market is where it is today, we also need to take a look at some of the other factors that helped the Kenyan gàmbling market grow. Here are the two most noteworthy mentions:

Fast internet connection

Believe it or not, but according to some reports, Kenya has a faster internet speed than the US. So much so that the average speed of 13.7 megabits per second landed Kenya the 14th place in the world. Combine this with the fact that not all African countries can boast the same speeds, Kenya is placed in significant advantage. What’s more, with the penetration rate of about 43% and the majority of users browsing the internet via mobile devices, it’s safe to say that Kenya is really dominating the internet game.

Mobile money services

Another proof that Kenya really deserves its place in the market is the fact that the majority of Kenyans utilize mobile money services. M-Pesa is the leading mobile money service that enables Kenyans to make a request whenever they want to deposit or get cash. Additionally, Kenyans use M-Pesa for cashless transactions as well, which proved to be particularly useful during last year’s pàndemic. Aside from mobile money options, Kenyan economy is still mostly cash-based, meaning that credit cards are not really being used for the most part.

Needless to say, by using M-Pesa, Kenyans can quickly and easily make deposits and withdraw winnings from both online and land-based casinos.

Final thoughts

Aside from sports bétting, fast internet and mobile money options, Kenya managed to grow its gàmbling industry thanks to the fact that they established an appropriate regulatory body early on. That way all gàmbling establishments can obtain the necessary licenses in no time, which significantly helps the entire industry function like a well-oiled machine.

Image Source: indivisiblegame.com

Next Read >> Savings And Investments To Secure Your Retirement

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BT Correspondent
BT Correspondenthttp://www.businesstoday.co.ke
editor [at] businesstoday.co.ke
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  1. The only problem arose due to the 2010 constitution when they made the betting function concurrent both in national and county governments,it brought confusion on the regulation.thats the reason for the prolification of those chinese gambling machine manace where you find them.placed anywhere even new schools.we should revert all the function to the national government which has the mechanism to control gambling.


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