Reforms Affecting Online Casinos and Sportsbooks in Kenya
Gambling has been on the receiving end of public disapproval for years now, being labelled as ‘sin’, ‘controversial’, and the like. That has been the inspiration the government needed to tighten its stranglehold on everyone involved in the industry, including the best online casinos available in Kenya.
It became something of practice to heavily tax both players and operators in an attempt to fund the annual budget. What has this led to is a story for another time; for now, let’s see how Kenya’s online gambling law has changed over the years:
Updates to the Online Gambling Laws in 2019
Maybe the draconian measures aren’t uncalled for after all. A 2018 study shows that the popularity of online gambling among Kenyan youth is increasing at an alarming rate, higher than in any other country in Sub-Saharan Africa. Arguably, that has led to an amendment to the Excise Duty Act in 2019. This is when the notorious 20 per cent excise tax was ushered in. This remains one of the most severe Kenyan gambling taxes to this day.
Updates to the Online Gambling Laws in 2020
The devastating 20% online gambling tax in Kenya in 2019 caused major turmoil among operators, some of which were forced to exit the market after being banned. However, in the name of buoying up cash-starved sports betting operators, a decision was made to cancel the levy on wagers.
Inspiring prowess and influence were demonstrated by Shade.co.ke – Kenyan manufacturers – who ultimately turned the tables and saved the industry. Not often can you see a development like that one in the gambling laws around the world.
Updates to the Online Gambling Laws in 2021
The high levy from 2020 struck a nerve with many. Still, soon after, President Uhuru Kenyatta gave the same people a reason to celebrate once again by signing the revised Finance 2021 Bill, which effectively lowered the levy to a tolerable 7.5%. The revision was made in the light of a last-minute decision of the Nairobi High Court to question the doubling of the originally planned 10% tax. And there you have it – another change to the online gambling laws in Kenya.
Update to the Online Gambling Laws in 2022
Kenyan Gambling taxes are in many ways like luck itself – they come and go when you least expect them. True to that statement, 2022 may very well be the year to re-introduce the 20% blanket levy on real money gambling bets. Things are still up in the air, but by the looks of it, the ambitious budget for 2022/2023 will be financed by raising excise taxes again. The good old manoeuvre will be effective starting July 1 if approved.
Tax on Winnings in Kenya
An amendment to The Tax Laws Act has set in motion a 20% tax on winnings in Kenya for everyone who gambles. This comes on top of the blanket 20% tax that was effective in 2019 and is expected to be signed into law once again in 2022. Business owners are not spared by the long hand of the law either. Gambling businesses are subject to a 15% levy, enshrined in the online gambling laws in Kenya. For all you online casino fans living in the country, let us explain some of the characteristics of the Witholding Tax (WHT) applied according to the Kenya Revenue Authority.
💰 Its subject are winnings, spoils, and profits, paid out as the result of a bet.
✅ Gross winnings are taxed
🎲 All sectors regulated by the Betting, Lotteries, and Gambling Act pay WHT
👮♀️ Non-compliance is punishable by law
This rollercoaster of a ride called online gambling tax in Kenya did not scare away the loyal customers, and the operators determined to make their services available to Kenyans. There are, however, Kenyans who still fail to understand how much they are taxed, why, and by whom. We give additional answers in the next segment.
1️⃣ Are there gambling laws in Kenya?
You bet there are laws.And one more thing is sure about them – they are constantly changing. To understand what’s been the impetus for all the changes in Kenya’s gambling laws in recent years, you have to be well acquainted with how people perceive real-money betting.
2️⃣ Is there a tax on winnings in Kenya?
Yes, there is a flat tax of 20% on gross winnings. This is a non-negotiable levy bettors have to pay after incurring another 7.5% for simply placing their wager. Winnings tax in Kenya is collected by the Kenya Revenue Authority.
3️⃣ How did SportsPesa end up being black-listed in Kenya?
SportsPesa was one of the operators outraged by the 20% excise tax introduced in 2019. Taking it too far was the reason the sports betting operator was banned from the Kenyan market. This year went down in the history of Kenyan gambling taxes as the one when the two biggest firms left the industry.
4️⃣ How much is the online gambling tax in Kenya now?
Currently, players are paying a stiff 7.5% flat tax on all wagers, pursuant to the 2021 gambling laws in Kenya. This might be subject to change as the summer of 2022 approaches, and everyone awaits the decision of the Parliament with bated breath.
5️⃣ Are there known future changes in the gambling law of Kenya?
The second half of 2022 will be when it is decided whether or not an increase of the Kenyan excise gambling tax will be mandated. If such change was to pass the Parliament, it is expected to set the stage for a rough year for both professional gamblers and operators in Kenya.