Safaricom, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and betting firms are the biggest beneficiaries of the growth of betting activities pocketing multi-billion-shilling.
Within six months, Kenyans gambled Sh83.2 billion via M-Pesa, prompting the bet value rise by 69 per cent from Sh49.2 billion last year.
Safaricom’s revenue from betting doubled to Sh2.95 billion from Sh1.48 billion making KRA collect at least Sh6.2 billion.
Excise duty on betting is now 30 per cent to all gaming transactions and what a customer gets after winning a bet attracts an excise duty of 15 per cent.
This was the company’s second highest earnings income from betting and payments behind revenues from what consumers paid businesses for goods and services, or C2B, where Safaricom received Sh5.51 billion.
The growth of betting came after the return of Sportpesa platform after a long court battle amid accusations of failure to meet its tax obligations in the country.
Sportpesa withdrawal of its trading licence two years ago had been billed as a death blow to the firm’s operations and gaming industry in the country.
However, the betting platform is alive and well despite the ravages of Covid-19 pandemic.
The platform had set the minimum betting stake at Sh50 but scores of other firms made it possible to bet with less than Sh50, which has in turn lured millions of youth.
The Kenyan gambling market is enormous – currently estimated to be worth $40 million (2020), and is growing rapidly despite the worldwide crisis.
Currently, Kenya is the third in Sub-Saharan Africa when it comes to sheer market size, (after South Africa and Nigeria), but has the highest number of young gambling players in the region.
Young Kenyans already spend more money on gambling on average than youth in other African countries.
Geopoll shows that 76 per cent of Kenyan youth are engaged in betting, the highest in Africa.
The report shows the youths, a majority who are jobless spend an average of Sh5, 000 on betting per month.
Parliament had in 2019 proposed a minimum betting stake of Sh50 but the Interior Ministry successfully appealed for doubling of the minimum stake in a bid to tame ‘irresponsible betting’.
The National Assembly’s Sports, Culture and Tourism committee agreed to the submission which if approved by lawmakers will make it expensive to bet.
Currently, gamblers stake as low as Sh5 on sites fuelling the rapid growth of online gambling among the young and vulnerable seeking millions in prize money.