Betting Shops;How Kenya’s Tech Surge is Phasing out Betting Shops

When sports betting first arrived in Kenya, almost all of the betting was done in retail betting shops, but as the years have gone by, Kenyan punters have moved on from physical betting  shops into the online space.

The transition from betting shops into online betting has been majorly down to the tech surge in Kenya.Kenya is one of the leading nations in Africa when it comes to technological advancement, and that rapid growth has had a telling effect on many other sectors in the country.

The sports betting industry has been one of the major beneficiaries, spiking into a multimillion dollar sector on the back of the impact of technology.

Mobile penetration in Kenya has sharply increased over the last decade, with the East African nation having one of the largest mobile phone usage in the continent.

With many Kenyans now owning mobile phones, bettors no longer have to visit physical betting shops as they can easily access their favourite sites on their smartphones or tablets.

Betting on mobile devices has become immensely popular, with almost 90% of Kenyan bettors now placing their bets on mobile. Also contributing significantly to the rise in online betting in Kenya is the improving internet connection in the country. Not only is internet connection generally now better and faster, it is also more affordable than it has ever been.

Safaricom remains the largest telecommunications provider in the country, but with the likes of Airtel Money ready to pounce on any slip ups, Kenya’s telecoms kings have had to be constantly on top of their game.This has resulted in better and more accessible internet service for Kenyans, and has nicely played into the hands of the many betting sites in Kenya.

One of Safaricom’s greatest tech innovations is M-Pesa, a mobile money service that has significantly improved financial inclusion in Kenya.M-Pesa has brought banking to the unbanked, with many Kenyans, whether in the rural or urban regions, now able to send and receive money from their loved ones, and make payments for a wide range of utilities.

Another great advantage of M-Pesa is that transactions can be carried out without internet connection.The online betting industry has cashed in on the M-Pesa revolution, with the service being the most used payment method on betting operators in Kenya.

A 2021 report from Safaricom revealed that bettors spent an incredible Ksh 83 billion to place bets via M-Pesa in the six-month period between April and September. All of these have contributed to the migration of Kenyan bettors from physical shops to online betting sites.

Not only is betting online much more convenient, but it also gives bettors more control over their betting activities. Instead of dashing over to the nearest betting shop to make a quick deposit, punters can easily fund their accounts on their mobile devices via M-Pesa within seconds.  Time-bound functions such as cash out and live betting are also more readily activated in online betting.

While retail shops are still very much in existence in the big Kenyan cities like Nairobi and Mombasa, they have become less prevalent, with many punters understandably preferring to place their bets online. The Kenyan tech surge has been largely responsible for this shift.