Nakuru residents top in betting – CBK study
An estimated 26 per cent of Nakuru County residents are addicted to betting, says a new household survey.
FinAccess Household Survey conducted jointly by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) and the Financial Sector Deepening Trust (FSD Kenya), indicates that Nakuru is ahead of the more populous Nairobi and Mombasa which hosts 19 per cent and 17.8 per cent of the gamblers respectively.
“Nakuru, Busia, and Siaya Counties recorded the highest cases of gambling at 26 per cent, 22 per cent, and 19 per cent, respectively, above the national average of 11 per cent,” the report reads in part.
Gambling is divergent in nature, with sports betting often conducted through digital financial services and platforms, being the most common, followed by casino gaming and lotteries, some of which involve the use of cash.
The report further noted that Nakuru is among the counties with the highest financial literacy levels at 67 per cent on the ability of the respondents to calculate the cost of interest of loans, just below Nairobi and Bomet counties at 70 per cent.
In sub-Saharan Africa, Kenya leads in betting/gambling where the majority bet either daily or weekly.
Highest financial literacy
There is however a disparity in the ranking of gambling counties, with the same report indicating that West Pokot’s prevalence stands at 25 per cent, followed by Nyandarua county at 23.7 per cent, Busia at 22.3 per cent, and 20.9 per cent for Trans Nzoia.
In September, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) cleared 105 betting firms, paving the way for the issuance of their operating licenses by the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB).
The rising number of betting firms and lotteries licensed to operate in Kenya points out the fact that the industry is booming, despite the government’s stringent policy aimed at making the activity costly and unattractive through higher taxes and limited advertising time on radio and television.
However, most betting firms have turned to offline advertising tactics by using music streaming apps to dodge the watershed hours regulation, thus increasing their market penetration.
This has seen Ads featuring betting and alcoholic drinks embedded in music downloaded from sites such as Mdundo and Spotify and then played any time, even outside watershed hours of between 5 am to 10 pm. Kenya’s betting industry has been on a rapid growth trajectory over the years, supported by an increase in mobile phones, internet, and digital lending that has enabled wagers to easily try their luck in multiplying their earnings.
Online sports betting companies such as SportPesa and Betin grew rapidly before the drastic tax hikes, riding a wave of sports enthusiasts, especially the youth.