Online Betting in Kenya: Facts and Trends 2020-2021

Nov 02

Online Betting in Kenya: Facts and Trends 2020-2021

In Kenya, the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) has the power to regulate and control the betting law. The body controls the gambling environment, license operators once they meet the set requirements and also restrict illegal gambling in the industry.

Betting regulation in Kenya

Kenya is among the first three countries in Africa where the highest number of people participate in betting. Within a year, Kenya collects 3 million dollars from the wagering industry. Due to the increase of gamblers in the country, some of them end up in addiction and other negative effects of the activity. By 2023, the social online gaming market in Kenya is estimated to be worth $55 million.

Introduction of online betting in Kenya

In 1966, Kenya passed the first clear rules and regulations on gambling in the country. The government introduced the Betting Lotteries and Gaming Act. The law allows operators to first acquire a license and pay the required taxes before they proceed to offer the services.

To verify that a betting site is legal in Kenya, check at the bottom of its website. If it is legal, it should show the license at the bottom. Bookmakers that have a license from the government should pay tax to increase the revenue.

The Kenyan law does not protect you if you join an international online betting site. In addition, if you have trouble with the site and you need legal help, the government has nothing to do to help you. Also, unlicensed sites do not pay tax to the Kenyan government rather they pay to other jurisdictions.

The minimum age of gambling in Kenya is 18 years.  According to research by Geopoll, SportPesa is the most popular online betting platform with 82% of the gamblers. Betin with 40%, Elibet 22%, Betika 12%, Mcheza 12%, and Betpawa with 10% then follow.

Why is Kenya’s gambling population rising?

First, there is increased number of online and mobile-based gambling. Most Kenyans and especially the youths have mobile phones and can easily access the internet. Most of this population comes from lower-income consumers. This is because most of them do not have jobs and are desperate.

Research shows that the low-income earners spend between 10-50 shillings to bet but their amount multiplies to millions. Half of the low-income earners are between the ages of 18-25. Hence, most of them are university students. They choose to turn into gambling to earn an income that can help them put food on the table; also, the availability of adverts on the social media platform. Top betting companies provide limelight to bettors on how to place their bets. For example, the likes of Tatua, Lotto, Betboss and Odibets Kenya among others bookmakers keep on advertising betting.

Online betting regulation 2020-2021

The government of Kenya is in the process of revamping the 1966 Gaming Act. According to the law, a new body to regulate gaming will be formed. The body is to go by the name National Gaming Authority. The body will perform the following responsibilities;

  • Taking, purchasing, holding, charging, and disposing of movable and immovable property.
  • Borrowing money
  • Entering into contracts with other companies or persons.
  • Suing or being sued
  • Performing all other roles to allow it to achieve its functions under the new Act.

The Board consists of 10 0fficials. Anyone willing to operate, promote, or sell online gaming should apply for a license from the board. After getting a license, you should operate online gaming through an approved gaming control system from the board.  Also, the National Gaming Authority will create a framework that allows real-time monitoring of online gaming and casinos. The Communication Authority of Kenya will take the responsibility of monitoring.

In addition, to facilitate real-time monitoring, the operator shall provide the following to the board;

  • The platform of participation which is the online website platform.
  • Location and the particulars of servers
  • Particulars of the charges to be taxed by an operator.
  • Details of the operators’ system that shows how a player can be registered and de-registered on the system.
  • Plus, any other information that the board may require.

Also, the operator needs to provide particulars of the network connectivity with two links to the mobile operator. The operator needs to maintain a customer care centre within Kenya to monitor any issue raised by the customers. According to the law, an online gaming transaction begins when a player’s account is debited with an amount of a wager. It concludes when the player’s account is credited with an amount of winning in case the player wins or when the player loses the game.

If you win a monetary prize in online gaming, the licensee should credit your account within two days. However, if you win a non-monetary prize, the licensee should deliver the gift within seven days or send an address within Kenya for you to pick the prize. In case you do not collect the gift after twelve months since the day of notification, the licensee can dispose of the gift through public auction or any other way allowed by the board.

You should not place a bet of fewer than fifty shillings in a competition. If you bet with an amount other than that given by the law in online gaming, you are liable to a fine not less than five thousand or six years or more imprisonment.

Moreover, you have to register and hold an account with a licensee to participate in online gaming. Children should not register for online gaming. Also, if a licensee notices you have provided false information, your registration is cut off and if you were already registered, your registration is canceled immediately.

The new law also imposes a higher tax for online gaming. For a three-year license, the operator needs to pay KES 100M and a renewal fee of KES 30M. Also, concerning betting advertisement on TV and Radio, no airing adverts between 6 am and 10 pm unless during sports broadcasts of live sports. In addition, the TV and radio stations should dedicate at least 10% of their airtime to responsible gaming messaging.