Kenya is slowly, but steadily, becoming a sports betting empire. According to PWC report, Kenya and Nigeria are among the largest gambling markets in Africa led by South Africa. Among the most popular gambling options, football tops the list. It is estimated that 79% of bets placed by Kenyan bettors are in football matches.
In this article, we are going to look into some of the best betting sites in Kenya, the legal landscape of sports betting in the country, the available welcome bonuses and payment methods. We will also highlight some of the popular markets available.
The Best Betting Companies in Kenya
Legal Landscape of Sports Betting in Kenya
Sportsbooks operating in the Kenyan industry are required to obtain licenses and permits from the Betting and Licensing Board. Over the years, the industry has run smoothly until over the summer of 2019 when tax dispute broke tension between sports betting operators. This led to the suspension of more than 20 sports betting operators in July 2019. However, the operators that agreed to comply with the government’s new tax regime had their licenses reinstated.
What is the current Legal State of Gambling in Kenya?
The increased revenue accumulation, as well as aggressive advertisement by sports betting companies, forced the government to adopt stringent supervision. Ideally, the government remains at the center stage of the sports betting industry through various roles, including legal administration and control of betting activities.
In 2013, another law, the Sports Act of 2013, was introduced. The law mandates the establishment of the national sports fund. These funds are to be raised through returns from sports lottery betting. This requires betting companies to contribute towards the national sports kitty, which targets to ease the burden of contributing towards funding for the national sports teams on national duty from taxpayers.
In 2018 and the better part of 2019, many sports betting companies were at loggerheads with the government and the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), over the remittance of 20% withholding tax, which was to be based on net customers’ winnings and not gross.
The disagreement led to the suspension of betting license, and the eventual seizure of operation by some TOP betting companies such as Sportspesa and Betin. Although these two companies closed down, there are still many betting organizations that have found a neutral ground on the dispute and complied with the new government regulations bringing the industry back to almost stable conditions.
What are the Current Kenya Betting Tax Regulations?
Currently, there are numerous tax regulations betting companies must comply with if they are to operate in Kenya. With the amendment of the Gaming Bill 2019, betting companies will be required to pay a 1% gaming level on the total revenue to the government. In addition to that, they are also required to pay a 20% withholding tax on all winning bets. Media platforms are also required to pay a 35% tax on revenue collected from all betting adverts.
Are There Betting Sites with no Tax in Kenya?
Kenya Revenue Authority requires all bookies to fill their tax revenue according to the government’s tax regulations. This means that you will hardly find a betting site with no tax except if you choose to bet at 1XBet. 1XBet is the only betting site that does not tax you on your winning. Ideally, the reason why they do not make the deductions is because they are not locally owned.
Licenses Held by Bookies in Kenya
In Kenya, betting licenses are provided based on the Betting, Lotteries, and Gaming Act. Cap. 131 under sections 23, 36, 39, 54, and 58 dictate the issuance of licenses by the regulating body. The government may issue licenses such as:
- Bookmaker’s license
- Totalisator license
- Online bookmakers license
- Online lottery license
- Online casino license
The duration for each license shall vary for each gaming and betting activity subject to the provision of section 23.
The Kenyan betting industry has undergone a significant transformation since its inception. From exclusively being made up to land-based casinos and national lotteries, to now multiple online sportsbooks and casinos, the industry has grown in terms of both size and returns. The legislative landscape around the betting industry has also gone through multiple transformations, with the most significant being the introduction of the 20% withholding tax. The industry is set to grow even further.
Is Betting in Kenya Safe?
As a Kenyan bettor, the safety of your personal and financial information, as well as winnings, should be the least of your worries. The betting regulation has put up stringent measures to ensure that sportsbooks uphold your safety and security. Most betting websites use SQL encryption to protect your information. When it comes to receiving your winnings, the Betting Control and Licensing Board has put up a framework upon which disputes are resolved.
Acceptable Payments Methods in Kenya
Depending on the betting company you choose, there are varied payment methods supported by the bookie. Players can use multiple payment options, including mobile payment, card payments, e-wallet transactions, direct bank transfer, and cryptocurrencies.
Mpesa is the most preferred method of payment among many Kenyan bettors. It is, therefore, no surprise that most betting platforms support Mpesa deposit and withdrawal transactions. Some betting companies even operate with Mpesa alone. Airtel Money is the second-most preferred payment method in Kenya. The payment method is not any different from Mpesa, apart from the fact that you need an Airtel line instead. Other payment methods in the form of cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, and e-wallet such as Skrill, are not as popular.
Kenyan Deposit/Withdrawal Options
- Mpesa: This payment method is the most used in Kenya. You only need a Safaricom sim to be able to complete the transaction.
- Airtel Money: Following the same concepts as Mpesa, the only difference is that you need to have a valid Airtel phone number to complete the transaction.
- Skrill: Although not so common among Kenyan bettors, this is one of the most common electronic payment methods.
- Neteller: This payment method is only available in a few betting platforms in Kenya.
- PaySafeCard: this is a perfect substitute for credit card payment.
- AstroPay: This option requires you to buy an AstroPay card online to be able to pay using this method.
- Bank Wire: Although not many betting platforms offer this option, you can always transfer funds from your bank account to your sports betting account and vice versa.
- Bank Cheque: You have the option of using a bank cheque in various sports betting shops around Kenya.
- Other Payment Options: There are some bookies that offer other payment options such as cryptocurrencies and apple/googleplay. The most common cryptocurrency among punters is Bitcoin.
Welcome Offers and Promotions for Kenyan Players
The online betting platforms use bonuses and promotions to attract and retain bettors on their platform. Most bookies offer impressive welcome offers that get you started upon registration. Existing players also receive occasional promotions to keep them motivated. Below are the top five betting companies in terms of welcome bonuses in Kenya.
Betting Companies with best welcome offer in Kenya
Kenya Betting Tips
The world of Sports Betting might be tricky at first. Read on to find out the best tips to find your place in it.
Choose a Site That Offers Welcome Bonuses
As a beginner, you should always scout for platforms with impressive welcome bonuses, convenient payment methods, and wide coverage. High welcome bonuses help kick-start your betting ventures and one of the best sites when it comes to welcome bonuses is 22bet.
Wide Betting Markets Coverage
Football enthusiasts who wish to concentrate on football betting markets should opt for platforms with multiple leagues coverage. Also, platforms such as Helabet have lucrative jackpots for football matches that promise higher returns.
Odd Boost Offers
Not all platforms have bet boost offers. Thus, to make the most out of a bet, you should consider scouting for platforms with the most competitive offers or sign up to platforms with the odd boost offers. For instance, you place bets on Odibet, you can receive a 10% odd boost on single and multibet.
Sports With Mobile Apps Offer More Convenience
Sometimes, being able to access your betting platform through a mobile app improves the betting experience. However, not all betting companies have dedicated a mobile app for their platform. Thus, before you commit to an account, you can always explore as to whether they have a mobile app. Sportybet can be a good option if you are looking for a platform that has a fully functional mobile app.
Make Payments and Withdrawal Winning Using Mpesa or Airtel
Mpesa is the most popular and readily available payment option in Kenya. Hence, a platform that offers Mpesa or Airtel money as one of the payment methods will be more appealing. However, some platforms do not offer these options. Nonetheless, you can still have access to other payment methods that are equally effective. Platforms such as Betfair and 1XBet do not have the Mpesa payment option. However, with 22bet and Betway, you can make deposits using Mpesa and Airtel. Betwinner also accepts deposits with Mpesa.
Always Place Bets on Licensed Platforms
Before you start wagering, always confirm that the platform is licensed and regulated by the Betting Control and Licensing Board. Such licensure is an assurance of the safety of all your information and transaction, as well as the payment of all your winnings. All betting companies outlined in this article are licensed and operate legally in Kenya.
Sports Betting Markets Available to Kenyan Punters
Currently, many online betting platforms avail a wide variety of betting markets that you can choose from. The comprehensive coverage lets you access the popular sports and other sports that are barely known in Kenya. Below is an in-depth analysis of the betting markets available in Kenya.
Football is the most famous sports in Kenya. The national teams have not been successful on international levels, but they are popular among locals. Some of the teams include Gor Mahia, FC Leopards, and Tusker FC among others. The African Cup of Nations and all Africa Games are other leagues that most Kenyans bet on. International Matches attract numerous bettors as well.
Most betting sites focus on mainstream sports, including football, rugby, basketball, and tennis, among others. However, football is the most famous sport in Kenya. Thus, football is at the center stage of sports betting in Kenya. Expect to find multiple football leagues and betting markets covered on these betting platforms. Some of the popular football leagues covered on the platform include the English Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Germany Bundesliga, the UEFA Champions League, Ligue 1, and many others. You can also find matches from the Kenyan Premier League.
Only a few of the betting platforms offer Esports betting market. However, you can always find a variety of Esports betting options on the platform that offer these services. For instance, 22bet has multiple Esports coverage, including the League of Legends, Magic. World Championship, PES eFootball Pro, FIFA, Dota, and many more. Read our comprehensive guide to Esports Betting here.
In recent years, virtual sports have grown to become a common betting market offered on Kenyan sports betting platforms. You can experience virtual games ranging from football, basketball, tennis, and racing, among others. For example, Mcheza offers a Virtual Football League with games running after every few minutes. Read our comprehensive guide to Virtual Sports Betting here.
Politics and Entertainment
If you need a break from sports betting, the Kenyan bookmakers allow you to bet on other options including politics. You can bet on the politics of various countries around the world. For example, you can wager on various federal and state elections in Australia. However, in most cases, betting on politics and entertainment is a long-term wager.
Kenya Sports Betting History
Sports betting has grown to become a common practice in Kenya. Whether you are in rural or urban areas, you can always find people placing bets. Contrary to other African countries, Kenyan laws are lenient towards betting. The Betting, Lottery, and Gaming Act, which came to be in 1966, is the primary legal framework that regulates the betting industry in the country.
However, following the promulgation of the 2010 election, various forms of gambling were devolved. Nevertheless, no subsequent legislation was put in place to separate functions between the national and the county government. Be that as it may, the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) is the main government institution that oversees betting activities within the country.
The Betting Control and Licensing Board was formed as a result of the enactment of the Betting, Lottery, and Gaming Act back in 1966. Since then, the body has overseen the licensing and regulation of casino activities as well as prize competition. The gambling industry remained dormant and only restricted to casino activities up until 2011.
What is the Future of Sports Betting in Kenya?
Despite the recent disputes, the betting industry is set to grow in the coming future. Many international betting companies continue to start operations in Kenya, which provide Kenyan bettors with a comprehensive list of options to pick from.
The Gaming Bill, 2019, which was forwarded to the parliament, attempts to address the grey areas that existed in the previous legislation and provides a framework for the establishment of the National Lottery Fund. Besides, individuals betting platforms continue to improve through the introduction of the additional sports market.