Kenya has some of the most relaxed gambling laws on the continent with multiple forms of gambling available to locals and tourists alike. Kenyan casino sites and mobile sports betting operators have ushered in a wave of gaming activity in the nation to such a degree that some local gambling sites in Kenya have expanded internationally and even inked sponsorship deals with UK-based football clubs.
Most online gambling in Kenya involves sports betting with the majority of licensed online operators focusing on mobile sports bets. However, there are a few casino sites that accept Kenyans and will let you play real money games online. Below you will find the best online casinos in Kenya.
Best Kenyan Online Casinos
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There are essentially two different types of Kenyan casino sites to choose from. First, you can play at sites that are formally licensed by the Betting Control and Licensing Board of Kenya. These sites typically operate on web addresses that end in .co.ke rather than .com or some other extension. If you want to stick with casinos licensed in Kenya, look for a website that ends in .co.ke.
The other option is to play online at foreign casino sites licensed in other jurisdictions.
The downside to playing at foreign casino sites in Kenya is they may not understand the market as well. This means you will not have as many deposit options and cannot claim your winnings in person at a local betting shop. You may also find it more difficult to make a deposit at a casino site that does not focus specifically on the Kenyan market. For example, most Kenyan online casinos accept M-PESA deposits while most international sites do not.
The legality of playing at foreign casino sites is questionable. Kenyan gambling laws are due for an update and it remains unclear at this time if it could be considered a crime for players to visit offshore online casinos. As far as we can tell, the authorities have expressed zero interest in bothering people simply for their choice of gambling sites.
The State of Gambling in Kenya
Multiple news reports in the past year have spoken of the quick rise of gambling in Kenya. The Daily Nation noted back in July of 2016 that more than five million Kenyans had taken up betting Kenya over the previous five years. Although the industry has flourished with money pouring in to local businesses, the quick growth of gambling in Kenya has also raised concerns of gambling addiction.
On the positive side, the growth of Kenyan casino sites and sports betting have brought money in to the country in the form of investments, it has saved countless cyber cafes that were on the verge of shutting down as affordable smartphones have flooded the country and it has poured money into local sports organizations.
On the negative side, gambling addiction is on the rise and there are few resources to assist those with problems. This lack of resources makes it difficult to even determine the extent of the problem, but anecdotal reports of students using their schooling funds to place bets and then the story of the university student who committed suicide after losing a large sports bet show there is certainly cause for concern.
The issue of taxation also caused some consternation for Kenyan lawmakers. A loophole in the law allowed gambling businesses to avoid paying taxes on their significant incomes. As you would expect, the tax issue was given priority treatment over all other concerns related to gambling in Kenya and legislation was passed in September of 2016 to tax sports betting operators 7.5%, gambling firms 12% and lottery operators 5% of turnover.
Lawmakers are now considering legislation to better regulate Kenyan casino sites and other forms of gambling. Business has been good, but it is clear to authorities that the industry is lacking in player-protection controls. We expect to see more on that relatively soon.
Legal Kenyan Casino Sites
Kenya is one of the few African countries that permit online gambling, but that also issue licenses to local casino sites. BetKenya.com went live all the way back in 2011, which was quite an early development for the African region. BetKenya has since closed for business, but plenty of other sites have popped up to take its place.
Some of these sites have been surprisingly successful given Africa’s well-documented economic struggles and spotty internet connectivity. An abundance of affordable, internet-connected mobile phones has done much to make online gambling a reality for millions of Kenyans in recent years.
SportPesa has been especially successful among Kenyan gambling sites despite its relatively young age. Some even questioned how SportPesa was able to afford major sponsorship deals the company struck with English football clubs Southampton and Hull City. The Hull City deal alone was worth Sh450 million over three years.
There are now roughly a dozen licensed gambling sites in operation in Kenya today. The majority of these sites focus on sports betting with an emphasis on mobile betting, although a couple do offer real money casino games. Locals can also easily visit any number of foreign casino sites that accept Kenyans.
Wes Burns co-founded OnlineCasinoSites.com with a mission to help gamblers understand and navigate the regulated online casino market in all countries around the world. Wes is a respected gambling journalist, working in the industry since 2008.