Kenyans gamble Sh463m daily through M-Pesa in sports betting craze

Kenyan gamblers placed bets worth Sh463 million daily through Safaricom’s M-Pesa platform in the financial year ended March 2022, showing the extent of the sports betting craze.

The telco’s disclosures show a 23.8 per cent jump in betting revenues through M-Pesa which grew from Sh136.6 billion in the previous financial year to Sh169.1 billion during the period under review. The rise is despite Government increasing taxes and tightening advertising rules to cut gambling which has since become a multi-billion industry.

The total money spent on betting is more than enough to fund Kenya’s universal health coverage budget (Sh62.3 billion) and construct roads and bridges (Sh103.7 billion) in the financial year starting July. Safaricom revealed that there were 732.3 million betting transactions on M-Pesa in the review period, an increase of 39.3 per cent from 525.6 million in the period to March last year.

The telco received Sh5.98 billion from betting compared to the Sh4.26 billion that the company made in the previous financial year. The advent of mobile technology, mobile money services and increased internet penetration has made betting easy in Kenya.

Unemployment among the youth has also fueled gambling activities with critics saying the vice is growing at the expense of more productive activities.

The increased ‘sin’ of betting has also attracted the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA). Excise duty on betting is now 30 per cent which is spread to all gaming transactions including prize competitions and non-charitable lotteries. The National Treasury is, through the Finance Bill 2022, proposing to increase excise duty on betting, gaming, prize competition and lottery from 7.5 per cent to 20 per cent.


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