Sports

Gambling Laws in Kenya: for Punters and Bookmakers

The Kenyan gambling market is enormous – currently estimated to be worth $40 million (2020), and is growing rapidly despite the worldwide crisis.

Kenya, a dazzling gem in East Africa’s crown, is riding high on the exciting wave of growing popularity for virtual casinos and online sports betting. Due to the country’s population’s strong interest in football and other sports and a notable increase in tech-savvy people, online gambling has become a popular pastime for those who like an occasional bet. Kenya now boasts the largest number of young gamblers in Sub-Saharan Africa while being the third-largest market in terms of absolute size (after South Africa and Nigeria). Kenyan youth spend more money on gaming than youngsters in other African nations. You can find several great and reliable bookies in Kenya. Betika is an excellent choice, by the way. You can google “Betika online bet” to read more about the platform.

Intro

Kenya undoubtedly presents some of the best chances for online betting operators when compared to other African nations with booming gaming sectors. Sports betting and online casino gaming are two of Kenya’s most well-liked types of entertainment. According to the 1966 Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Act, gambling has been legally permitted in Kenya since 1966. The Betting Control and Licencing Board is in charge of licensing and regulating all types of gaming activity. As per the Penal Code of Kenya, individuals who run unauthorized gambling establishments face severe penalties, including a four-year jail sentence and a huge fine. Since 2011, it has also been permitted to gamble online. 

The Kenyan legislature passed a new bill in 2019 intending to update the nation’s outdated regulations and enact fresh guidelines for internet gambling.

Online Betting in Kenya

The internet has been much more accessible in Kenya in recent years, which has ignited the interest in online sports betting and digital gambling. 

While traditional betting still has its appeal, people can now wager on sports and enjoy casino games from the comfort of their cozy homes quickly and conveniently, thanks to the development of internet platforms.

 

Online betting in Kenya offers various options, from virtual sports and sports bets to online casinos. Sports betting accounts for most internet betting primarily due to Kenyans’ passion for football. Kenyan bookies serve a broad range of betting markets, from regional competitions like the Kenyan Premier League to international events like the English Premier League and FIFA World Cup. Notable is the emergence of online casinos, where popular games like blackjack, roulette, and digital slots are being played. These online casinos are alluring because of their user-friendly interface, wide selection of games, and cozy atmosphere.

Online Betting Craze

Without question, sports betting is the most widely used type of gambling in Kenya, bringing in millions of dollars for sports betting websites each month. Players from Kenya are particularly interested in football and basketball betting. Many reputable sportsbooks use Kenyan shillings as payment, often giving incentives in the same currency. For local bettors, online sports betting is by far the most practical and accessible alternative because there are so few physical betting shops across the nation. 

Online Gambling vs. Brick-and-Mortar Casinos

Since the majority of Kenyans do not reside in Nairobi, their options for land-based gaming are limited. Therefore, it makes sense that Kenyan gamblers are more likely to engage in online gambling. It’s not just more practical — hundreds of websites with thousands of games and welcome bonuses are available. However, benefits like free bar service and the overall social atmosphere make land-based casinos worthwhile visiting. Because of this, we advise our readers to limit their casual betting to online casinos and reserve their trips to physical casinos for special events.

Online Gambling Regulations in Kenya

Let’s see how gambling in Kenya is regulated in closer detail.

🎯 Betting Control and Licensing Board

Since its establishment in 2011, the Betting Control and Licencing Board has served as the primary regulatory agency in Kenya, supervising and keeping an eye on all gambling-related activities. Stated differently, the Betting Control and Licencing Board oversees and grants licenses to any businesses or operators that provide casino games, such as slots and table games. The oversight of all sports betting operations, including poker and bingo, falls under the auspices of the same regulatory body. 

🎯 Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Act

All gaming activities in the nation are governed and overseen by the Betting, Lotteries, and Gaming Act, which also does the following:

 

⭐️ authorizes and oversees all gaming and betting establishments;

⭐️ imposes taxes on gaming and betting;

⭐️ approves public lottery programs;

⭐️ requires license payments;

⭐️ imposes limitations on licensing.

 

The rules stated in the act apply to all forms of remote gambling, including sports betting, casino gaming, online and mobile lotteries, and more. A list of the games that remote operators plan to make available to Kenyan gamers and details about their gaming servers’ location must be submitted to the BCLB. In order to serve local players and answer their questions, all foreign operators are required to establish and manage internal customer care centers within the nation. Additionally, the businesses must keep a database with details on every bet placed by Kenyan clients and the results that went along with it. It is required to process sensitive customer data in accordance with the 2019 Data Protection Act. Operators can only reveal sensitive consumer data if players have permission.

 

Additionally, the 2019 regulations mandated that remote operators pay their customers’ profits seven days after the date of winning. 

The regulations also declare it illegal to run an internet or mobile gambling business without a license or with a license that has been canceled. If this violation is proven, offenders risk fines and/or up to five years in jail.

🎯 Social Responsibility Matters

Licensed Kenyan operators are required to manage their businesses in accordance with numerous social responsibility regulations, as is the case with other jurisdictions where gambling is permitted. To begin with, all gaming organizations have to make sure that their services and products are only available to people who are of legal age to gamble.

 

Naturally, this holds true for operators of both on-site and online gaming. In order to legally engage in most gambling activities, Kenyan players must be older than eighteen. This covers all types of gambling, including internet, land-based, and sports betting. The lottery is the sole activity with a different age restriction; players must be at least 16 years old to participate. 

Given the prevalence of underage gaming in Kenya, age and gambling are delicate within the country. 

Revisions to advertising rules are among the policy measures that regulators have made in response to the estimated 76% of Kenyan teenagers who engage in gambling activities. The only exceptions are when a minor participates in gaming activities in private homes while being watched over by parents or legal guardians. 

 

It is the responsibility of the Kenyan gaming authority to grant permits for the holding of public lotteries, with the requirement that at least 25% of the total earnings support socially responsible projects, such as public welfare and disaster relief. Numerous Kenyan-licensed operators support neighborhood sports teams or make charitable contributions.

🎯 Advertising Laws

In Kenya, gaming businesses spend billions of shillings on advertising each month. Lawmakers have suggested some significant adjustments to the rules in response to claims that the underage gambling problem has been fueled in part by a proper lack of regulation. A rule prohibiting gambling-related outdoor advertising, social media platform advertising, and advertising between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. was passed in 2019. The Betting Control Board had to first approve the commercials according to the legislation, and they had to warn about the dangers of problem gambling. But in a few weeks, the High Court struck down these laws for failing to follow the proper legal procedure.

🎯 Taxation

The path of gambling is a long and thorny road regarding taxes.  At first, the licensing board taxed gaming businesses’ revenue at an astounding 35%. Everyone was taken aback in 2018 when Kenya’s betting tax was increased to include a 20% increase in players’ profits.

 

Infuriated, bookmakers withdrew from the market, and numerous prominent online sportsbooks did the same. Due to the limited quantity of sites available at the time, players resorted to illegal offshore betting sites.

 

Not surprisingly, in the summer of 2020, the government completely eliminated gambling taxes on winnings. It was short-lived since they were brought back within six months. 

 

As of right now, the circumstances are as follows:

 

💰 Advertisements pertaining to gaming are subject to a 35% gambling tax, which is covered by operators.

💰 A 15% fee is applied to any earnings that operators receive from stakes.

💰 A 15% turnover tax is imposed on lotteries.

💰 Any winnings you receive from betting (at land-based or online bookmakers in Kenya are subject to 15% tax, as opposed to the 20% previously.

Safety First: Choosing the Right Bookie

While it’s not against the law for Kenyans to bet with overseas operators, doing so increases your chance of falling victim to fraud. Since these foreign websites account for a large portion of Kenya’s online gambling activity, the players must ensure that they place bets on reliable and secure websites. Thankfully, you can do a few things to ensure that you will always get paid quickly and fairly and that scammers won’t access your personal information. Your best bet is to stick to sites that have been granted licenses. If you choose a Kenyan bookie, you can choose from several local bookmakers. Such industry giants as 22Bet and Betika successfully offer their services on the Kenyan market. 

Conclusion

Kenya is one of Africa’s fastest-growing gaming sectors. Since the middle of the 1960s, gambling has been permitted in the nation and has been regulated by the Betting Control and Licencing Board (BCLB). It’s safe to say that Kenyans like to gamble for fun, and the most popular forms of gambling in the nation are sports betting and online casinos. 

The internet gambling industry has a lot of room to grow, but there are also a lot of obstacles to overcome, especially in terms of governmental control.

Because of this, enforcing legislation related to online gambling can be challenging, especially when it comes to verifying that users are of legal age and are not involved in fraudulent activity. In addition, there are worries about addiction and problem gambling, which could result in more oversight and regulation. Ultimately, even if there are a lot of growth prospects in the online gambling sector, regulatory frameworks must be put in place to guarantee consumer protection and ethical and transparent business practices. 

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