Sports betting is growing in leaps and bounds across Africa, and Kenya has been a major driving force behind one of the fastest-growing industries on the continent.
Kenya currently has the third biggest online gambling market in sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa and Nigeria. The country also holds the aces in terms of the highest number of youths spending money on gambling in the region.
Millions of Kenyan youths have taken to online sports betting as a means of earning some complimentary income.
The rapid growth of online gambling may not be unconnected to the popularity of football in Kenya. Football is religiously followed around the country and the influence of foreign leagues such as the English Premier League has been identified as a remote driver for sports betting.
Today, Kenya has no less than 30 betting companies with valid licenses to operate within the country. More bookmakers are still waiting in line to obtain their licenses from the Kenyan gambling regulator, the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB).
Most players bet on these online betting sites, while some still prefer the good old betting shops.
The streets of Nairobi are dotted with physical betting agents of different bookmakers that have now found a friendly environment for their burgeoning business.
Apart from the betting companies in Kenya, there also exists a number of affiliate websites that promote bookmakers and provide solutions to questions and queries punters may have about online betting.
Hence, not only can Kenyan’s access betting sites online, they also have betting guides to usher them through their betting journey.
The rise in online sports betting in Kenya can also be attributed to the improving mobile and internet penetration in Kenya.
Kenya is not just the biggest economy in East Africa, it is by far the most digitally advanced in the region. Kenya has an internet penetration rate of over 80% and this is expected to increase in the next few years. The increase in mobile phone owners and internet accessibility has resulted in reciprocal growth for sports betting.
Most of the betting companies operating in Kenya have native mobile apps or well-optimized sites for mobile betting, making online betting available to people without them having to break a sweat. Bettors can now access betting sites anytime and anywhere.
The land-based sports betting shops are fast becoming obsolete because of the convenience and ease mobile betting offers.
Another factor that has been pushing online sports betting in Kenya is the increasing availability of mobile money in the country.
Mobile payment services are the most widely used payment system in Kenya, and they have been widely adopted by betting companies as a deposit method on their betting platforms. Over 80% of Kenyan households own a mobile money account.
M-Pesa and Airtel Money are the leading providers of the service and it provides an easy and straightforward means of funding betting accounts.
The belief that sports betting is a source of quick and easy money has also played a major role in the rise of gambling activities in Kenya.
Within the framework, gambling is classified as a recreational and leisurely activity in Kenya just like in most African countries. However, most Kenyan bettors do so in order to make some extra cash.
Kenyan authorities have done their bit to keep the rising rate of gambling under check, but despite their best efforts, the industry looks set to keep breaking new records in the coming years.