Gamblers placed Sh620.97 billion bets between 2018 and last year, highlighting the craze that has made Kenya home to the highest percentage of young punters in Africa.
A report tabled before the National Assembly Committee on Sports and Culture last week lifted the lid on the betting craze as millions of Kenyans, both the unemployed and those with jobs, eye quick cash.
Kenya has the highest percentage of young gamblers in Africa at 76 percent and who on average spend more to bet compared to their peers across the continent, as the craze defies increased taxation.
Gamblers pay tax for every winning bet besides a further levy per amount staked while gambling firms pay a raft of taxes which have been increasing over the years to thin the appeal of the Kenyan gambling market.
“Kenya has the highest percentage of young gamblers in Sub-Saharan Africa (76 percent), who outspend their peers on a per-capita basis, with 96 percent of them using mobile devices,” the report reads.
The billions of shillings spent on betting have made Kenya the third biggest gambling market in Africa with an estimated worth of Sh200 billion annually, behind Nigeria and South Africa.
The report does not, however, give a breakdown of how much punters staked per year in the period, but shows that betting firms paid gamblers Sh532.72 billion as winning bets.
The firms made Sh88.24 billion in gross gaming revenue between 2018 and 2022.
Every betting stake is taxed 12.5 percent adding to the 20 percent withholding tax on every winning bet in deliberate efforts by the State to discourage gamblers.
Besides gamblers, betting firms are taxed on the gross gaming revenue —turnover minus winnings paid out— at a rate of 15 percent while they pay corporate tax on profits at a rate of 30 percent.
Gamblers have increasingly spent more on betting in the hope of making quick cash to pay daily bills amid a high level of unemployment.
“A typical gambler is male, below 36 years of age, from a low-income household, with at least a secondary school level of education.”
Betting firms are flooding the Kenyan market in a bid to have a slice of the billions of shillings that punters stake every year.
The latest listing by the Betting Control and Licensing Board shows out of the 110 betting firms licensed to operate, some 22 are new entrants.