Editorial

Low Income Earners Are Funding Kenya’s Billion Dollar Betting Scene

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kenya betting scene
Image: The East African

In the year to March 2022, Kenyans placed Sh169.1 billion worth of bets via Safaricom’s M-Pesa. Bets funded by M-Pesa accounts increased 39 percent, generating revenue of KES 5.98 billion for the telco. Under M-Pesa’s business payments, betting now ranks second in terms of revenue, after business-to-consumer (B2C), which generated Sh11.4 billion in revenue.

M-Pesa is the most popular method of payment for individuals in Kenya, so it is expected that its figures comprise most betting transactions in Kenya.

The government has made efforts to curb gambling, but betting remains a favorite pastime in Kenya, especially among the youth. According to the latest statistics, 100 licensed betting firms operate in the country. A year earlier, only 76 companies were registered, representing a growth of 31.5 percent.

Two Sides Of A Coin

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Safaricom, and betting firms profit the most from the increase in betting activities, collecting billions each year. Kenya last year reintroduced excise duty on betting stakes. The KRA takes 7.5 percent of the value of bets placed besides 20 percent of winnings and corporate taxes on betting firms.

A report by the Central Bank of Kenya and Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows that 14 percent of Kenyans rely on betting to pay their bills, making gaming the alternative source of employment. However, 54 percent of Kenyans involved in betting are low-income earners.

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