Where to bet safely in Kenya and which are the most reliable online bookmakers on the market? Find the answers to these questions in our chart below. Compare the terms of the companies and choose the most suitable one for your play.
Leading Online Bookmakers in Kenya
Despite uncertainty about the future survival of several of the best bookmakers in Kenya in the aftermath of a recent clampdown by the government, the online betting scene in Kenya still continues to thrive, with new betting sites still appearing regularly. This is mainly due to an outdated gambling law-set dating back to 1966’s incapability to deal with the online activities of its citizenry. As a result, Kenyans continue to stream onto the websites of European-based gambling operators enjoying the vast range of high-quality entertainment people from EU countries take for granted. Below we discuss some of the best bookmakers that continue to accept membership applications from Kenyan nationals in further detail.
1xBet’s 2007 entry into the online sportsbook market came as a pleasant and rather scarce surprise since most recent entries into the online arena sees operators focusing almost purely on the casino side of the entertainment spectrum. Following in the well-trodden footsteps of online sportsbook success, 1xBet adopted a strategy that secured huge levels of success to name one amongst the many having gone down the same footpath previously. 1xBet established an excellent record of success by fielding a complete online sportsbook with an enticing number of football markets at its core that consistently offers extremely favourable odds.
- Excellent odds
- First-class betting features
- Great variety of sports
- Top-notch casino providers
- Cool additional betting options
- Platform available in Swahili
- Customers restrictions imposed
Over the past decade in the online bookmaking industry, Betway as a brand faced a couple of important decisions. However, they displayed a high level of commitment to achieve success by their willingness to make a forcible change to its chosen strategy. The brand cleared up its reputation quickly by electing to keep its operations solely within the world’s regulated regions. In the process, it managed to establish itself as a trustworthy online entertainment provider with a reputation for fair dealing. Further enhancing its international attraction by improving its bonuses and offers and expanding its product and becoming actively serving members of highly trusted dispute resolution organisations like IBAS and ESSA, to embrace fully transparent practices and offer high levels of security for its members.
- Impeccable reputation
- Secure platform
- Reliable support
- Great betting options
- Good casino
- No Swahili translation available
The past couple of years have seen a few impressive new entries into the online bookmaking sector, and 22Bet’s early 2017 opening marks one of the astoundingly good ones. The brand was quick off the mark to identify itself as an online bookmaker with serious intent. In record time 22Bet managed to provide its players with dedicated mobile apps and succeeded in establishing a position as one of the world’s top online sportsbook providers. Since the company’s earliest days, they offered a massive range of unique sports types supported by an equally large number of betting markets and a highly refined punter-user interface.
- Great user experience
- Competitive odds
- Many ongoing promotions
- Excellent casino
- Just a few payment options for Kenya
As one of the popular and most trusted bookmakers in Kenya, the SportPesa name carries a certain level of prestige and has become recognised as one of the online world’s foremost brands. Its survival over the past many decades has caused the brand image to become synonymous with stability, security, and fairness. In a long-established line of distinguished, SportPesa carries on the proud tradition that still considers a strong horseracing line-up a core essential. However, with the sportsbetting world currently subject to an ever-increasing football fan craze, SportPesa meets the football betting expectations of punters in all facets and levels of the sport.
- Reputable brand
- Swahili version of the platform
- Many enlisted sports
- Great variety of markets
- Good odds
- Missing essential betting features
Ever since its launch in 2020 Helabet endeavoured to become one of Kenya’s top online gambling entertainment providers and succeeded admirably in this goal. Aside from all the accolades bestowed upon the brand, it achieved success through continued innovation and hard work in applying the full extent of its considerable resources to meet the needs of online betting fans. It simply represents the best product currently available in online betting entertainment. In addition to its hard-to-match range of standard betting products, it also delivers a wide selection of promotions and live video feeds to cover all in-play events at your demand effectively.
- Attractive design
- Great odds
- Superb live betting section
- Excellent bonuses
- No casino games in Kenya
The online betting platform Palms Bet was first launched in 2018 in Bulgaria. Before that, the people behind this project have managed brick-and-mortar casinos across this country for two decades. Although this brand was associated primarily with its casino games at first, it undoubtedly succeeded in providing a first-class sports betting experience. In 2022, Palms Bet presented its services to Kenyan players and is now seen as one of the most prominent licensed betting brands in the country.
- Fast-growing brand
- Excellent betting experience
- Licensed and trustworthy bookmaker
- Good betting features
- Exciting casino
- No betting apps
Why choose online betting in Kenya
Located on Africa’s east coast and bisected by the equator, Kenya has become widely recognised as Africa’s centre of gambling with as much as 76% of its population wagering daily. Despite its classification as a developing nation, the passage of a newly adopted constitution in 2010 brought about a positive political reform. This saw the country’s economy entering a boom phase with its GDP showing dramatic yearly growth ever since.
Kenya’s fast-growing economy saw an equally impressive expansion in the mobile communications market. Currently, up to 85% of its residents have easy access to the internet, and according to recent GeoPoll statistics, up to 96% of local punters now place wagers via their mobile smart device.
The subsequent, sudden influx of a vast number of online gambling operators has left local authorities in a state of quandary and mistrust. In the first half of 2018, the government passed a bill approving the raise of gambling operator’s taxes from 7.5% to 35%, by mid-2019 parliament tabled another bill to restructure gambling taxes again. The latest draft revision suggests the same 2018 approved 35% gambling tax imposed on operators should now reduce to 15%, it however still awaits parliamentary approval.
According to a press release, the state introduced and approved the 2018 bill intending to protect the country’s relatively inexperienced youth. Highly enthusiastic about gambling, a survey report indicated 50% of these young adults admitted having gambled in 2017, a figure that leapt to 70% by the end of 2018.
Sportsbetting gained a massive local following throughout Kenya, statistics from Google shows 11 of the country’s 20 most popular searches mentions sportsbetting. According to estimates Kenya currently ranks as the third-largest gambling nation in Africa, behind Nigeria and South Africa.
Gambling Facts at a Glance
In 1966 the Kenyan shilling supplanted the old East African shilling retaining the same value, with 1 shilling divided into 100 cents. Initially, the government minted coins in denominations 5, 10, 25, 50 cents, as well as 1-shilling, and 2-shilling banknotes, with the 25-cent coin discontinued after 1969 and the 2-shilling going into disuse after 1971. 1973 saw the adoption of a 5-shilling banknote, followed by a 10-shilling banknote in 1994, and 1998 saw the introduction of a 20-shilling banknote.
A population total of over 52.3 million people ranks Kenya as the 27th most populous country on earth and 7th in Africa.
Kenya has over 39 million active gamblers in 2019 with the local gambling market showing a steep increase in the number of players over the past five years.
In Kenya betting has become a daily activity for the more significant part of the nation’s inhabitants and the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) is the state-appointed body tasked with safeguarding their businesses by eradicating all forms of illegal gambling and exerting control over licensed venues. The BLCB came into being through an Act of Parliament, provided for in Chapter 131 of the Law of Kenya the jurisdictional body first came into power in 1966.
In recent developments with the local gambling market in a state of flux after the recent cancellation of 27 gambling operator licences, parliament is currently considering a newly proposed draft bill. Gaming Bill 2019 aims to replace the long-serving Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Act of 1966. Gaming Bill 2019 additionally seeks to provide for any online operator active in the Kenya gaming market, an area not covered by any previous piece of legislation. Moreover, it also aims to replace the BLCB with the National Gaming Authority and proposes the establishment of a Gaming Appeals Tribunal to address issues relating to gaming disputes.
Licensed gambling products
The Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Act of 1966 provides for the licensing and regulation of the following gambling products:
Types of operators
The BLCB’s regulatory control authority allows for the licensing of gambling operations including, casino, bookmaking, and poker rooms.
Kenya introduced its first gambling laws in 1966. This law-set provided for the establishment of the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) which currently still serves as the central regulatory body responsible for the control and licensing of the country’s gambling industry and activities.
During the early 2000s, the state opened an online gambling venue focused on providing locals with entertainment. This closed after several years, causing Kenyan residents to access European online gambling venues in ever-increasing numbers to fulfil their entertainment needs. The local government sees such activities as illegal and placed a ban on all unlicensed offshore operators but has yet to take legal action against any transgressors.
Unlike the nearby Uganda, where the state recently closed all doors to unlicensed foreign gambling operators, Kenya still seems to have kept communication channels open. That has allowed offshore operators to continue serving the country’s citizenry.
However, in June 2019 the BCLB cancelled the gambling licenses of 27 companies due to their failure to adhere to the state’s regulatory requirements for licence renewal. Since then, ten companies have re-applied and been successful in having their licences reinstated. However, 17 operators continue to fail to meet the necessary criteria, two of which happened to be of the largest and most popular operators serving the Kenyan online market.
Due to the June/July 2019 developments regarding operators not meeting licensing requirements left several of the country’s largest and most popular bookmakers unable to continue their operations. For example, in the wake of the state’s recent repeated hiking and lowering of operator taxes Kenyan Revenue Authorities served local gambling operator SportPesa with a $103million bill in back-taxes. Besides, the state notified banks to halt all banking services involving unlicensed betting firms.
Considering the enormous financial impact on the affected companies, we expect they will fulfil the requirements post-haste. Though for the moment, this still leaves thousands of local bettors without recourse or an immediate solution.
In May, just before this, local authorities also imposed severe restrictions on advertising formats relating to gambling products and services in the country. This included a ban on televised gambling-related advertising between 6 am & 10 pm. Also, it announced a complete ban on all outdoor gambling-related advertising and a ban on gambling operators promoting gambling through social platforms or contracting celebrities to promote their products.
While very few international operators accept Kenyan shillings, Kenyans can still place wagers with offshore operators if they can access the website and have the means of financing their account.
How to Choose the Right Online Betting Site
Considering the Kenyan state’s hand in the abovementioned fluctuating state of affairs in all gambling-related matters local residents left without their usual local bookmaker able to cater to their needs may want to look for another reliable, trustworthy online bookmaker able to meet their requirements. Searching for, and deciding on an appropriate new partner could potentially expose you to exploitation, to avoid these pitfalls, you need to consider the following:
- Can verify their reputations of your selection of shortlisted brands for running reliable, fair, and honest operations?
- Does each feature essential betting conveniences such as a Cash-out, betslip editor, bet builder, live video streaming services, and 24/7 Live Chat Customer Support access?
- Your list of chosen potentials, do they all hold valid, verifiable international licences from known independent industry authorities such as the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission, Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), or Curacao Internet Gaming Association (CIGA)?
- Do they each respectively offer the banking brands and payment methods that suit you best?
- Do they offer a wide enough range of sports types and betting markets to keep you entertained for a couple of years?
- Your listed brand names, do they regularly undergo monitoring audits intending to test and certify each game for RNG validity?
- Does your shortlist contain names of well-known licenced betting sites in Kenya, are there any betting sites with free bets and which feature a generous signup offer?
Bonuses for Kenyan Players
Due to the unfettered access, Kenya’s punters have to easily join and wager with Europe’s international bookmaking providers they have a similarly exciting and massive range of innovative special offers and promotional bonuses to choose from. Europe’s leading bookmakers that continue to serve the online sportsbetting needs of Kenyans in the same dedicated manner they treat and host all their clientele. As a result, Kenya’s punters receive regular offers to treat themselves to what is essentially free sportsbetting sites if they choose to participate and claim sign-up welcome offers. Many of these feature percentage matching bonuses for first deposits and first bets placed as well as lost first bets with the free bonus funds mainly paid in the form of Free Bets.
These top sites also do not simply allow the excitement and fun to stop once newly signed punters have successfully claimed their welcome bonuses. They instead continue to make the lives of existing punters as exciting as possible via a selection of free and reduced-price offers that include new bonus challenge each day of the week. These promotional offers aim to reward reload-deposits, special price clubs, enhanced ACCAs, price boosted ACCAs and many others covering both singles and multiple wagers.
Most Popular Sports to Bet on in Kenya
The primary sports Kenya’s people love to bet on is football/soccer with the bulk of the betting action going to teams in the English Premier League, Spain’s La Liga, and German’s Bundesliga. It also includes a healthy, but a secondary nod of action towards wagering on local football matches. In addition, a reduced number of locals also pay some extensive wagering attention towards American sports from the NBL, NFL, with quite a few betting slips also going towards supporting Rugby, Tennis, Handball, Cricket, and Volleyball.
Are Online Casinos Popular in Kenya?
Since the regulation of local gambling venues, Kenya became home to 3 sportsbooks, 11 bingo halls, and 28 casino operations. However, due to the proclivity for Kenyans to gamble, the nations spend upwards of $40 billion while gambling at online casinos each year with the mobile market having a massive local support base. The popularity of online casinos is also a result of the country’s size and ineffective commute infrastructure, with Kenya’s 55 million inhabitants spread over a 580,000 square kilometre area.
Trivia/Did you know that…
- 65% of Kenyan bettors wager at least once a week
- many Kenya serving online operators now refrain from renewing their licenses due to Kenya’s exorbitant 35% uniform tax rate
- the 35% gambling operator tax represents a five-fold tax increase
- the new draft bill proposes a 15% operator’s fee and a 20% tax on all winnings derived from betting
- a previous draft bill proposing exactly the same 15% operator & 20% punter tax split was shot down amid great furore before the approval of the 35% operator tax law
- The state enacted the 35% tax in an attempt to protect its youth from gambling addiction, to date it has not shown any effect to counter this issue
Available Mobile Apps
In addition to the brilliant online websites, Europe’s top online betting venues offer Kenya’s punters several mobile access solutions. This leaves the mobile-focused locals to choose from several of the online world’s best dedicated mobile sportsbetting apps aimed at providing the ultimate punter-sportsbetting experience via either Android or iOS-based mobile smart devices. Immaterial of the sportsbetting brand you choose, but before making your final choice ensure which of these betting apps has the best odds on offer.
All the brands in our discussion above regularly feature the best odds the online market in Africa has to offer. To select the brand and app best suited to your need purely depends on your tastes, all offer a user-friendly interface fully optimised for maximal touch screen functionality and customised to make the best use of smaller mobile screens.
Supported Payment Methods
Once again, as one would expect from the industry’s top online international bookmakers each feature a massive variety of online financing solutions. This is to provide you with the best and most convenient methods to make deposits and request withdrawals. All accept numerous international currencies, but for a number of political and economic reasons, only a few accept the Kenyan shilling. This means you would need to convert from shillings to Euro or GBP.
Available deposit and withdrawal methods include e-wallets like Skrill, NETeller, and several others, while most also accept bank transfers, cheques, debit/credit cards like Visa Electron, Maestro, Mastercard, and Visa.
Under current law, Kenya’s citizens do not need to pay taxes on any winnings derived from gambling with the state Revenue collecting directly from the sportsbook provider.
How will the Kenyan state protect its people, especially to curb its underage gambling problem?
A new law currently pending approval will outlaw the placing of any bets under Sh50, which is the amount underage gamblers can commonly afford to place. It also intends to institute far stricter advertising limits on televised and other forms of gambling advertising. This includes platform such as social media and others.
How old must a Kenyan youth be to gamble legally?
Kenya’s legal system controlling the country’s gambling specifies a person must be aged 18 or older before they may gamble legally.
What are the odds like when compared to what is available in other countries?
Aside from a few special offers, the list of operators we introduced above all provide some of the best odds in the market.
How can I be certain my personal and financial details I had to share with the sportsbook remains private and will not become sold to some unauthorised third party?
The group of international facing bookmaker discussed above must all remain fully compliant with Europe’s stringent and tightly enforced laws relating to the protection and security of customer data. Failing to do so will result in a rather hefty fine and/or loss of the operator’s license.
Why do online bookmakers sometimes impose a wagering requirement on some bonuses?
It simply aims to encourage people to continue playing on their website and get to know it better. It also prevents immoral people from simply taking free money and leaving.
Until I stopped playing at online casinos a few years ago, I was unable to change my preferred banking method. Is this restriction still in force at online bookmakers?
No, you are free to choose any number of banking options for deposits and withdrawals and may change them as often as you’d like.
Do some operators in Kenya allow you to join and place wagers without verifying your account details?
No, none of the licenced brands will allow such practices. They are bound by licensing rules and regulations requiring all registering members to verify their account details.
Despite all the furore caused by changes to Kenya’s legal system responsible for regulating the country’s gambling industry, it remains a very friendly place for online gamblers. That sees the more significant majority of the world’s pioneering brands all doing their best to compete for a larger slice of the local market. It is also an environment that is certain to remain in place until the new Gambling Act of 2019 receives parliamentary approval and changes the balance of freedom afforded by the relatively unregulated local online landscape. Depending on the extent whereby Kenya’s new laws affect the freedom of its citizens, at 50 years old, the act is long overdue for an in-depth overhaul. This may have a positive effect on the local betting industries and economy.