According to recent reports, Kenyan gamblers placed a total of KES463 million daily worth of bets through Safaricom’s M-Pesa platform in the fiscal year that ended on March 31st, 2022.
The local mobile network operator company disclosed a 23.8% increase in betting revenue through the M-Pesa platform from KES136.6 billion registered in the previous financial year to KES169.1 billion in the aforementioned period. The significant increase has been registered regardless of the Kenyan Government’s decision to boost taxes on gambling companies and impose further restrictions on gambling advertising rules in order to tackle the constantly rising popularity of gambling which has managed to turn into a multi-billion industry.
According to the latest reports, the overall amount that Kenyan punters spent on betting is more than enough to fund the universal health coverage budget of the country, worth KES62.3 billion, and help the authorities fund the construction of roads and bridges worth KES103.7 billion in the fiscal year starting in July.
Local telecom Safaricom revealed that Kenyan bettors made a total of 732.3 million gambling transactions on the M-Pesa platform over the review period, with their number representing an increase of 39.3% from 525.6 million registered in the period to the end of March 2021. The local mobile network operator received gambling revenue worth KES4.26 billion in comparison to KES4.26 billion registered in the previous financial year. The increased popularity of the Internet, along with the constant development in mobile technology and mobile money services has made betting literally an everyday activity in Kenya.
Gambling Participation Rates Fuelled by High Unemployment among Kenyan Young People
Reportedly, gambling activities have also been fuelled by unemployment among Kenyan youth, with anti-gambling campaigners saying the problem is expanding at the expense of more productive activities.
The increased participation in gambling has also attracted the attention of the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA). Currently, excise duty on betting in the country is 30%, with the tax applicable to all gaming transactions, including non-charitable lotteries and prize competition. Furthermore, the National Treasury has unveiled the Finance Bill 2022 seeking to increase the excise duty on gaming, betting, lottery, and prize competitions from 7.5% to 20%.
According to the results of joint research that was commissioned in the middle of December 2021 by the Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) and the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), local punters currently spend a weekly average of KES939 in comparison to KES2,559 in 2019. Experts say that a number of factors, including the increased campaigns released by the Kenyan Government against gambling, stricter regulation of gambling advertising, and the introduction of taxes on players’ winnings, have resulted in reduced customer spending.
Reportedly, fewer people in Kenya recognize betting as a source of income. The proportion of the country’s population has declined to 11.2% in 2021 from 22.7% in 2019, with the frequency of betting also being reduced. According to the survey, the decline could be partly attributed to the local Government’s deliberate measures seeking to tackle illegal gambling in 2019 and its efforts to raise the wider public’s awareness of the potential harm that could be inflicted by irresponsible betting behavior.
Less than 14% of the household members who participated in the survey said they were actively engaging in betting this year. Almost 16% of the respondents confirmed that they bet every day in comparison to 22.6% in 2019. There was also a decline in the gambling participation rates of respondents who bet every week, with the proportion being reduced from 51.7% to 41.4%. The report revealed an increase in the proportion of Kenyan residents who bet monthly from 6.9% to 8%.