Recently, a new report showed that sports and betting related companies were the most searched topics in Kenya. The results confirmed the trend in the rise of sports betting in the country. As per the report EPL (English Premier League) fixtures and scores is one of the most searched in the country.
The report was prepared by We Are Social and Hootsuite which showed the top Google searched by Kenyans. Out of the 20 searches around, 11 searches were related to betting. The searches made in phone leads the other.
As per the Nielsen Survey conducted in 2018, the penetration of online betting on Kenya was around 27%. This was significantly higher than the other neighboring countries like Rwanda where the penetration was 2%, Uganda with a penetration of 4% and Tanzania with 5% penetration.
In the last two years, sports betting has become very popular in Kenya with various betting companies setting up their base of operation in the country. Recently, a Swedish betting company signed a deal with a well-known Kenyan Firm to make an entry into the Kenyan market. In the Top ‘How to’ search list of Kenya, ‘how to write an application letter’ was trending. This showed that a lot of Kenyans were actually looking out for job opportunities and lacked the basic skill of writing an application letter. The other trending searches were “How to write a CV” and “How to make money online” which were also career oriented.The influx in sports gambling searches is slightly disturbing in this scenario.
This report was further validated with a recent report by Reach.africa (an app which tracks how much people spend online) which showed that Kenyans spend a considerable amount of money on betting right after ‘Bills and Utilities’. The betting transactions were second on the list. Comparing this to the online transactions of Nigeria, Betting came at the 10th position.
In terms of the number of youths taking part in gambling activities in Sub-Saharan Africa(SSA), Kenya stood at the top of the list as per the 2017 reports by Geopoll. This is a clear indication that the communities in Kenya are suffering from Gambling addiction. The Geopoll survey stated that “About 54% of youth in SSA have tried their hand at gambling. Kenya has the highest number of youth who have participated in gambling or betting in the past at 76% followed by Uganda at 57%. Ghana has the least number at 42%”.
A survey in 2017 by Geopoll stated that Kenyan youth wagered more money every month than the other neighboring countries. It also stated that around 54% of the Kenyan people who had wagered money on sports belonged in the category of 12-22 years of age. The Google report made it clear that many Kenyan youths have resorted to gambling as their main source of income.
Seeing the massive increase in gambling habits around the country, the Kenyan government hiked the taxes for betting operators to 35% in 2017. This hike was eventually rolled back in 2017 September to 15%. Still, the government was able to manage the difference by adding a 20% tax on the winnings of the gambler.The MPs have stayed adamant on the tax cuts stating that the gambling taxes can’t be changed any further especially at a time when other countries like Italy have issued blanket bans on gambling advertisements.
The government of Uganda recently announced that they will not renew the licenses of the foreign betting operators from the following year. Although the policy is still under debate, still the Kenyan politicians are urging the government to follow the lead of Uganda.
The tax cut has forced major sports betting operators to withdraw their sponsorships from local leagues and sports clubs. They argued that the latest tax rate cut was a big blow to their income and operational expenses. Since then, the companies have been trying hard to get a more reasonable tax reform but it had little or no success.