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Kenya, a multi-ethnic nation in the African Great Lakes region, has a population of roughly 54 million and two official languages: English and Swahili. It’s also one of the continent’s biggest gambling markets, with vast numbers of devoted sports fans placing massive amounts of bets.

This article provides an overview of Kenya's iGaming landscape and business environment. It also offers practical advice for entering the dynamic and rapidly expanding online betting and casino market.

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The Kenyan gambling market: types of gambling

The Kenyan gambling market is enormous, projected to reach a value of nearly $100 million in 2024.

Ranked third in Sub-Saharan Africa in terms of market size, behind South Africa and Nigeria, Kenya also leads the region when it comes to number of young bettors — younger Kenyans spend much more on gambling than their peers in other African nations.

Another thing that sets Kenya apart is access to technology.

Kenya has a very high internet penetration rate for an African country – 40.8% — and a vast majority of internet users in the country do so from mobile devices.

This rapid digitalization has triggered explosive growth in the online gambling sector. This isn't just a matter of convenience, but also a necessity for many residents of rural areas in Kenya without access to land-based betting shops and casinos.

Already in 2019, 88% of bettors used their mobile phones to place wagers, and this number is only expected to increase.

Of course, these factors contributed to the flourishing of online gambling. The variety of gambling options in the country has increased: traditional gaming has now been joined by online sports betting, virtual games, and live dealer games.

According to Statista there will be 402,000 online sports betting users by 2029, 85,000 online casino users, and 54,000 lottery users.

Betting in Kenya

The Kenyan gambling market is dominated by sports betting.

A survey from GeoPoll reveals that 37% of respondents bet on sports weekly, 28.5% do so monthly, 18% daily, and 15.8% multiple times a day.

Kenyan punters have varied betting preferences, but one sport reigns supreme.

Without a doubt, football is Kenyan punter’s bet of choice. The English Premier League, UEFA Champions League, and Spanish La Liga draw the lion's share of bets, but local Kenyan leagues such as the Kenyan Premier League are popular as well.

Other sports also see significant betting activity, including rugby. Basketball, too, has seen a rise in betting, spurred by the increasing popularity of the NBA and other leagues in Africa.

Cricket and athletics are big, too; bets are predominantly placed on international cricket matches, as well as the Olympic Games and other international events, especially those featuring Kenyan long-distance runners. Additionally, combat sports like boxing and MMA are gaining traction with bettors, with major fights drawing significant interest.

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The first online bookmaker in the country was SportPesa, which received an operating license in 2013. It remains the most popular betting platform, with 82% of Kenyan gamblers holding an account there. As the iGaming market expands, the number of licensed betting operators has grown to nearly 128.

More and more new betting companies are opening in Kenya. These are some of the best active betting sites in the country:

  • SportPesa
  • Betin
  • Elitebet
  • Betika
  • Mcheza
  • Betpawa

…and many more.

Gambling in Kenya

The thriving casino market almost matches the popularity of betting. Land-based casinos, primarily located in major cities, consistently draw crowds. Some of the country’s most famous casinos include Casino Flamingo, Mayfair Casino, Captain's Club Nairobi, Golden Key Casino, and Senator Casino Mombasa.

In recent years, large casino businesses have transitioned online, opening up a vast array of opportunities.

Other forms of online casino games which are popular in Kenya include blackjack, roulette, and poker. Live dealer casinos also provide the real thrill of real-time gaming and remain popular with Kenyan gamblers.

Gambling, in general, is completely legal in Kenya. However, the legal landscape is far from simple.

The main regulatory document regarding gambling laws in Kenya is the 1966 Betting, Lotteries, and Gaming Act which has since been amended, especially to adapt it to the needs of a growing market and technological advance.

The most significant recent change is the introduction of the Kenya Gambling Control Bill 2023, which aims to overhaul the gambling industry.

This bill seeks to create the new Gambling Regulatory Authority in place of the existing Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB). Among the key features of the law are tightened measures to crack down on unlicensed and underage gambling and a ban on gambling adverts on radio and TV for certain hours to safeguard vulnerable groups.

The bill also requires that 30% of the shares of any gambling business registered in the country must be held by Kenyan citizens. Moreover, the business must transact with a Kenyan bank.

Gambling taxes in Kenya

Tax rates have been a point of contention between sportsbooks and authorities.

In 2018, together with reducing taxes for gross gaming revenue from 35% to 15%, the government started taxing bettors’ winnings. This 20% tax was not well-received by the industry, and when Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) started to argue that this tax also applied for betting stakes, many big betting operators like SportPesa took that as a cue to exit the market.

In July 2020, this controversial tax was removed, but within days the government promised to reintroduce it in a different form within six months.

For now, the government has set a 15% tax on gross gambling revenue, along with a monthly gambling levy determined by local counties. This revised tax structure aims to provide a more predictable revenue stream for public finances​.

The cost of a gambling license

The cost of gambling license acquisition varies based on the gambling activity and whether the applicant is local or foreign.

For example, new application fees for bookmakers start at KES 460,000 for locals and KES 910,000 for foreigners, with different renewal and premises fees. Additional costs may vary depending on the specific operations you need to conduct.

More on this topic: Online gaming licenses: why, where, and how to get them in 2024
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Next steps: how to enter the Kenyan market

Kenya is a market with a lot of potential, but it requires caution and a well-thought-out business plan to be commercially successful in the region.

There are some steps that Slotegrator recommends you follow to enter the Kenyan market successfully:

1. Select reliable software providers: Begin by partnering with trusted software providers that have a proven track record in the online gambling industry. These providers should offer scalable and secure software solutions that can handle high user volumes and ensure a smooth gaming experience.

2. Select gaming content: Curate a diverse range of gaming content that caters to the preferences of the Kenyan audience. This should focus on popular games in the region such as sports betting, slots, and table games. Offering games from reputable developers can also enhance the platform's credibility.

3. Obtain a license: Securing a gambling license from the Kenyan Betting Control and Licensing Board is crucial. This not only legitimizes the business but also ensures compliance with local regulations and boosts a platform’s reputation in players’ eyes.

4. Select payment methods: Incorporate a variety of payment methods that are popular and accessible in Kenya. This includes mobile money services like M-Pesa, along with traditional banking methods and perhaps cryptocurrencies for tech-savvy users, ensuring that transactions are secure, convenient, and available to all.

5. Create a website: Develop a user-friendly website that is optimized for both desktop and mobile use. The design should be appealing and easy to navigate, with robust backend support to handle user data securely and ensure uptime.

6. Marketing and promotion: Define and implement an effective marketing strategy, including social media and affiliate partnerships.

Leave it to the professionals.

With Slotegrator's white label casino solution, you can launch an online casino platform, receive player support, and operate under our business structure and sublicense.

Conclusion

The Kenyan iGaming industry is a vibrant and promising market for companies and entrepreneurs interested in the African gaming landscape.

Growing internet penetration and extensive mobile device usage provide an ideal environment for online gambling platforms. With a young audience keen on online betting and gambling, there's potential for significant growth and development in this market.

Entering a new market is no easy task. If you require professional assistance or wish to fine-tune your existing business plan to be a perfect fit for Kenya, contact us for a free consultation. Our team of legal professionals and iGaming experts is ready to assist you.

FAQ

Is it legal to gamble in Kenya?

Yes, it is legal to gamble in Kenya. The activity is regulated by the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB), which oversees the licensing and operation of gambling establishments.

How can you avoid a betting tax in Kenya?

Avoiding a betting tax is not legally permissible. All gambling winnings are subject to a tax as mandated by Kenyan law, and operators and participants must comply with these tax obligations.

How do you start a betting company in Kenya?

To start a betting company in Kenya, you need to register your business with the Registrar of Companies, prepare a detailed business plan, obtain the necessary certificates, and apply for a gambling license from the BCLB. This process also involves paying relevant fees and ensuring your operations and premises meet regulatory standards.

When did betting in Kenya become legal?

Betting has a long history in Kenya, but it became formally regulated with the establishment of the Betting Control and Licensing Board in 1966. This marked the beginning of structured gambling operations in the country.

Petr Stehlik
Petr Stehlik
Lawyer
In 2016, Petr graduated from the Law Faculty of Charles University in Prague. The main area of law on which he focused both during and after his university studies is software law (and intellectual property in general). After graduating, he briefly worked at a medium-sized law firm in Prague, but in 2018 he joined Slotegrator, where he has been working ever since and where he handles the company’s day-to-day legal matters.

Comments

  • B
    brian kiama
    February 14, 2022
    id like to know the legal nitty gritties on how to register and any other relevant info
    The Slotegrator team
    The Slotegrator team
    February 14, 2022
    hello! Of course, we are happy to share, will be in touch!
  • G
    GILLIAN KAGIA
    April 14, 2021
    Hey, I have an idea concerning online betting in KENYA. Looking for potential investors to pitch my business plan. Any ideas on such opportunities
    The Slotegrator team
    The Slotegrator team
    April 14, 2021
    hello! We will be in touch!
  • I
    Idol
    December 3, 2021
    I have a lot of money and want to open a casino in Kenya
    Artur Movchaniuk
    Artur Movchaniuk • Business Development Manager
    December 3, 2021
    Good afternoon! We will be in touch with you)
  • J
    john
    August 18, 2022
    Am interested in setting up in the kenya market
    The Slotegrator team
    The Slotegrator team
    August 18, 2022
    hello! We will be happy to assist with it! Messaged you.
  • M
    Mikael Vasson
    December 6, 2021
    I am very interested in the Kenyan online casino market, but I don't quite understand all the legal nuances. Do you provide legal support?
    Ayvar Gabidullin
    Ayvar Gabidullin • Business Development Manager
    December 6, 2021
    Hello! Yes, of course we provide legal support in Kenya. We have sent all information to you. Thank you!

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