Kenya is a multi-ethnic country in Africa’s Great Lakes. In addition to English, Swahili is also used as an official language. It has the biggest economy in East Africa and legalized and popularized internet gaming.
This article examines the iGaming and gaming scene in Kenya, as well as how to join this quickly increasing sector.
Despite the global crisis, the Kenyan gaming business is predicted to be worth $40 million by 2020. Kenya now ranks third in terms of market size in Sub-Saharan Africa (behind South Africa and Nigeria), but has the most youthful gamblers. Kenyan adolescents already spend more money on gaming than other African youngsters.
Sports betting dominates the Kenyan gaming sector. Football is the most popular sport to wager on in Africa, with European leagues accounting for a large portion of betting preferences.
Online poker and casino games are popular, but not as popular as sportsbooks. Nearly 30 sportsbooks are permitted to operate in Kenya, with a total income of $2 billion. SportPesa was the first online sportsbook to be licensed in 2013.
According to GeoPoll, 82 percent of Kenyan gamblers have an account with SportPesa. Betin, Elitebet, Betika, Mcheza, and Betpawa are also popular.
The land-based casino market is well-established. Kenya has 30 licensed casinos, most of which are in large cities. The Casino Flamingo, the Mayfair Casino, and the Captain’s Club are all in Nairobi, while the Golden Key and Senator Casinos are all in Mombasa. Blackjack, roulette, and poker are among the most popular table games in Kenya, which has roughly 200 gaming tables and 1300 slot machines. However, in recent years, the business has shifted dramatically to internet, opening up a slew of new prospects.
Kenya’s technology sets it distinct. For an African nation, Kenya boasts a 43% internet penetration rate. And most of the country’s internet users are on mobile devices. It’s not only a matter of convenience, since many Kenyans live in rural locations distant from casinos and betting shops. In 2019, 88 percent of bettors used their phones to make bets, and this percentage is anticipated to rise.
M-Pesa (mobile money), a popular service for online payments in Kenya, also adds to this increase. Credit cards and bank accounts are scarce in Kenya due to the country’s cash-based economy. To fill the vacuum, M-Pesa allows deposits at stores that may be transferred to online bookies and casinos.
This increased internet gambling enterprises’ potential consumer base.
Online-only segments are gaining popularity in Kenya. However, the minimal danger and ease of such games attracts a growing number of young people.
Most Kenyan gamblers are young (18-25) and either students or low-income families that perceive internet gambling as a means to relax or earn extra money. As a consequence, Kenyan operators often depend on huge quantities and frequency of low-value bets.
Kenyan legal nuances
Gambling is allowed in Kenya, however the legal environment is complex. Most restrictions derive from the 1966 “Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Act” and hence do not reference internet gambling in any way.
A 2013 legislation regulated sports betting websites. As the Kenyan Betting Control and Licensing Board regulates only land-based activities, several overseas operators have entered the market. The government tolerates the uncontrolled internet sector, and businesses licensed elsewhere may freely operate in the nation.
A Gaming Bill 2019 was created to establish licenses for all sorts of online gaming, banning foreign operators, regulating advertising, and taxing the business. No news on the bill since November 2019, when it was slated for second reading. It is unknown when it will come into effect.
In general, Kenyan legislation allows betting, lottery, casino games, and slots. Kenyan law does not discriminate between skill and chance games and does not ban Kenyans from placing bets (except for age restriction).
The Kenyan government has always relied on gaming taxes. The country has a history of dealing with betting businesses, as we discussed in our piece on betting legality throughout the globe.
Along with lowering gross gaming income taxes from 35% to 15%, the government began taxing bettors’ winnings in 2018. When the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) argued that this tax also applied to betting stakes, several prominent betting firms like SportPesa were ready to abandon the sector.
However, the administration committed to revive it in a new form within six months.
Kenya now levies the following gaming taxes:
Gaming winnings are taxed at 15%.
The lottery tax is 15% of the gross revenue.
The betting tax is 15% of the winnings.
Online gambling is not presently taxed, but if the Gaming Bill 2019 passes, it is probable that comparable levies would be implemented.
So what? How to penetrate the Kenyan Market?
In order to be economically successful in Kenya, one must exercise care and have a thorough business strategy. Aside from sports betting, Slotegrator advises operators looking to grow into this industry to provide additional online casino games as well as betting choices. Because other industries are not yet taxed or regulated, the potential cost of expanding to Kenya is modest for licensed operators.
The global betting issue is boosting online poker, slots, and other activities that don’t depend on live events. Choosing a payment mechanism that works effectively in the area is also vital to your success. Globally, the market is shifting from a land-based to an online-based one, and several operators are taking advantage.
But joining a new market isn’t simple. Contact us for a free consultation if you need expert help or want to fine-tune your current business strategy for Kenya. Our legal and iGaming specialists are pleased to assist.