Lucrative Kenyan betting market attracts 29 more gambling firms

The number of betting firms licensed to operate in Kenya increased by 29 from September last year. 

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The number of betting firms licensed to operate in Kenya increased by 29 from September last year as increased taxation failed to deter the entry of more players into the multi-billion-shilling industry.

A list published by the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) shows that there were 128 licensed companies at the end of January, up from 99 last September.

Some of the new companies are Ditimac Limited, Sky Gaming Kenya, Genius Bet, Gameshow Limited, Duchang Kenya, Sahara Game Technology, Life is a Game, Meziz Bet, Masaa Bet, Sabanzuri Limited, and Mawingu Technologies.

The increase in the number of betting companies comes despite high taxes the firms are taxed on the gross gaming revenue at a rate of 15 percent besides paying a corporate tax of 30 percent on profits.

There was a proposal tabled in Parliament last year to have betting firms pay a gaming levy of 13 percent of their gross gaming revenue.

Excise tax on betting stakes was increased to 12.5 percent from 7.5 percent in July last year in addition to a 20 percent withholding tax on every winning bet.

Betting companies are also required to pay income tax at the rate of 16 percent adding to the annual licensing and compliance fees that they must pay to the regulator.

The Kenya Revenue Authority last year started integrating betting firms on its platforms to have a real-time view of the industry in a bid to seal tax evasion loopholes.

The new entrants are angling for a share of the gambling cake that is currently in the hands of Milestone Games, which currently trades as SportPesa.

The continued rise in popularity of the betting craze has rattled the government, prompting continued increments in taxation on gamblers and betting firms.

For example, the National Treasury has proposed in the Finance Bill 2024 to increase the tax on betting stakes to 20 percent.

The proposal is meant to reduce the appeal of betting to millions of Kenyans, notably, the unemployed and youth who have turned to gambling in the hope of making quick cash to foot their bills.

Gamblers staked Sh88.5 billion worth of online bets in the financial year that ended in June 2023, or Sh242 million daily, highlighting how betting has turned into a full-time economic activity.

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Note: The results are not exact but very close to the actual.