[Photo/ Sportpesa]

Kenyans spent at least Ksh83.2 billion in six months ended September 2021 to place bets, new data has shown. The amount was deposited to b*****g sites through Safaricom’s M-Pesa platform alone, a 69 percent jump from Ksh49.2 billion a year earlier.

Safaricom earned Ksh2.95 billion from the b*****g craze, an increase from Ksh1.48 billion a year earlier. On the other hand, the Kenya Revenue Authority collected at least Ksh6.2 billion from punters using M-Pesa.

In what appears to be a growing b*****g a*******n in the country, bets funded from M-Pesa accounts surged 84.7 percent to 347.8 million. The government has been trying to discourage b*****g through heavy taxation, which includes 7.5 percent of the value of bets placed, 20 percent of winnings and corporate taxes on b*****g firms.

For every Ksh100 you place as a stake, firms would be required to set aside Ksh20 as excise duty. The 20 percent tax was initially introduced in 2019, but b*****g firms successfully lobbied to have it removed through changes to the Finance Act 2020. B*****g has in the past decade become a multi-billion dollar industry in Kenya – with sports b*****g and lottery brands such as Sportpesa, Betika and Odibets becoming some of the country’s most recognizable firms.

As of 2019, there were over 100 b*****g companies in the country, forcing the government to start a crackdown that saw the number drop drastically.

The B*****g Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) in September announced that it had suspended 70 M-Pesa pay bill numbers for unlicensed or unauthorised gaming activities run through broadcast channels.

Being private entities, it has been hard to know what b*****g companies mint from Kenyans, since they are not required by law to make public their earnings.

Read: KRA Eyes B*****g Billions With 20% Stake Tax

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