Gambling in East Africa

There has been a dramatic shrink within the betting markets in light of the suspension of the world's leading football leagues. This has left little for people to place a wager.

It also hasn’t been easy for the best betting sites in Kenya in the last few months after the government raised taxes on stakes.

This followed a decision in May 2019 which introduced new regulations on gambling that included a ban on outdoor advertising. It came amid worries about the effects of gambling in the country.


According to BBC Sport Africa, Ivan Kalanzi, a brand ambassador for GAL Sport Betting website said that in terms of sales, there has been a loss of about 99%. This is also because most people are not interested in online betting.

Many betting shops in the region have been closed because of the outbreak and as a result, an industry whose annual turnover is worth at least $20m in Kenya, $12m in Uganda and approaching $10m in Tanzania has been greatly affected.

Providing estimates, a leading European betting group said that its revenue has already been reduced by at least $100m due to the restrictions hindering sport which may be in place until the end of August. The outlook is furthermore bleak considering postponement of key events such as the 2020 European Championships.

Even horse racing in the United Kingdom, a major market provider for betting companies, has been cancelled which means the figure will rise significantly.

On the flip side, some gamblers view the enforced break as an opportunity to save some money.

Meshack, a cyber cafe owner based in Western Kenya says it has helped him save a bit more because the money he'd have lost remains with him.

He usually places bets on English Premier League, Bundesliga, La liga, Brazil and Chilean leagues, basketball and ice hockey.


"For the youth and majority of Kenyans, there are no jobs you place your hope (in betting) that you could win a jackpot and change your life. That hope is shattered for now.”, he said

"Definitely with no sporting action, it's boring that there's no betting." says Ted, another gentleman who agrees that the lack of betting markets has helped his finances.

"I am definitely saving some money”, he continued

Kenya's Parliament voted to raise the excise duty on bets from 10% to 20% in September 2020 and this prompted leading bookmakers, SportPesa, to halt its operations in Kenya until a "non-hostile regulatory environment" returned.

The company was one of the most visible African companies in sport, with sponsorship of both Everton FC and F1 team RacingPoint, but ended both deals on the same day in February.