Kenyans spent Ksh.169.1 billion on betting via M-Pesa in 2021, a 23.8 percent jump from Ksh.136 billion that was spent in the year 2020.
This is according to Safaricom’s financial report released May 12 when it recorded a 1.7 percent drop in its net profit to Ksh.67.49 billion.
According to Business Daily, Safaricom, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and betting firms are the biggest beneficiaries of betting activities.
The Kenya government has continued its clampdown on betting activities in the country in what it says has become a habit among the youth.
On May 10, betting companies in Kenya suffered another loss after the High Court quashed their petition to stop 7.5 percent excise duty on monies set aside for betting.
In a ruling by Judge George Odunga, the taxing is proper and lawful and that it does not relate to the 20 percent withholding tax on winnings and a 15 percent tax on the gross gaming revenue.
“I have found that in betting transactions, it is proper to levy excise duty on the stake,” said Justice Odunga.
“Whereas the two taxes may well impose burdens on the taxpayer, that does not make them unconstitutional,” he added.
The tax compels betting firms to withhold and forward Ksh.75 out of every Ksh.1,000 wagered regardless of whether the punter wins or loses.
The betting firms, including Betika, Betway, Odibets, Sportpesa, MozzartBet and Association of Gaming Operators, were enjoined in the suit against KRA.
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani proposed a 15 percent excise duty on gaming, and gambling advertisements.
This will apply to all television stations and other advertising outlets like billboards.
“Gambling, gaming, and alcohol addiction have become prevalent in our society. These habits are extremely addictive and can result in a variety of harmful repercussions, especially for the youth. Advertisements for alcoholic beverages, betting, and gaming contributes greatly to the promotion of these habits. To discourage the promotion of these products and activities,” said Yatani.
Yatani said the adjustment is part of amendments under the Excise Duty Act that are set to generate an additional Ksh.50.4 billion to the exchequer for the FY 2022/23 budget.
2017 survey by GeoPoll indicates that Kenya has the highest number of betting youth.
The survey was carried out among youth between the ages of 17-35 in Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya.