Kenya, like so many countries across Africa, has a deep affinity for sports and games. Chief among them is football a.k.a. soccer. Other top sports with ranking status in Kenya include athletics (marathons and running), field hockey, horse racing, cricket, volleyball, and rugby. Traditional games have been ably supplemented by other entertaining attractions, such as online gaming.
Kenyans are taking to these online attractions in their droves. These include a growing selection of enticing options, particularly social online games. According to Statista, this market is currently estimated to be worth $40 million (2020) and expected to rise towards $55 million (2023). The unprecedented increase in internet-based games has catapulted Kenya into the limelight with many foreign-based online gaming providers.
Regulation and Gambling in Kenya
In Kenya, the law imposes a 20% tax on all gambling winnings. Kenyan gambling regulators maintain that the tax must be imposed on the payout and the players’ original bet. However, gambling operators maintain that the burden of taxation should remain only on the payout won by the player. A year ago (August 2019), the Betting Control & Licensing Board of Kenya indicated that unpaid taxes in the amount of $586 million, were owed by 27 gambling companies.
The minimum gambling age in Kenya is 18, and the fastest-growing gambling sectors in the country include sports betting, online poker, and online casino games. Players from Kenya tend to prefer card games like blackjack, baccarat, and poker.
Still, the latter game has not gained the levels of popularity as it has further south where it officially ranks as, ‘online poker #1 in South Africa’ among devotees. The success of online gambling with skill-based games like poker and blackjack, and chance-based games like slots, roulette, craps, and instant games depends upon internet penetration across the nation.
The key takeaways from gambling in Kenya are as follows:
- Gambling in Kenya has been legal since 1966.
- Online gambling is not illegal in Kenya – it’s a gray area.
- Online gambling taxation of winnings is currently at 20%.
- Online gambling operators are required to pay a license fee of Ksh100 million
How Many People Are Connected to the Internet in Kenya?
In Q4 2018, the Communications Authority of Kenya announced its new mobile penetration rate topped the 100% level. This means that there were as many mobile phones in Kenya as the number of people in the population. The data is a little beguiling since most people in Kenya have more than one SIM card for their mobile phones.
Leading mobile phone operators in Kenya include Mobile Pay Limited; Telkom Kenya; Safaricom; Airtel; and Finserve Africa.
By 2018, statistics indicate that the number of mobile subscriptions reached 49.5 million. A report published by S. O’Dea on February 28, 2020, indicated that the number of mobile-cellular subscriptions for every 100 Kenyan inhabitants topped out at 96.32 subscriptions.
This information dovetails with the growing popularity of online gambling games that cater expressly to legal-age players in this expansive African country. Greater connectivity bodes well for increased adoption of online games, including social online games and skill-based online games such as poker and blackjack.
The Nature of the Kenyan Gambling Market
According to research published by Slotegrator, 30 licensed casinos are operating in Kenya (November 2019). These include The Captain’s Club in Nairobi, The Golden Key Casino, Casino Flamingo, and Senator Casino.
Kenyan gamblers enjoy sports betting as a primary gambling selection, with a large minority of players dipping their feet into card games, slots games, roulette games, and other games online, and at land-based casinos. The novelty of these games is certainly enticing to legal-age players, and the popularity of the games is growing rapidly too.