Betting and Taxes in Kenya – Do I have to pay any taxes?

BLOG 12/06/2019

It is no secret that gambling is now more popular than ever in Kenya as evidenced by the several sports betting companies that have emerged in recent years. Whether in casinos, at the race track or even on your phone or computer, the allure of a one-time life changing paycheque has driven many to join the craze with only as little as ten shillings needed in order to participate.

In an annual report done by Hootsuite, betting sites top the list of the most searched category on the internet. However, there is a general lack of awareness on the tax implications involved while betting.

Betting in accordance to the Law

There have been instances where people leave a popular betting company because they did not get the ‘full’ winnings’ deposited to their account, the gambler (punter) feels short-changed and this should not be the case.

The Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Act (1966) stipulates the rules and regulations that one needs to abide by when it comes to Betting.

Betting means to wager or stake any money or valuable thing on behalf of any person or, expressly or impliedly to undertake, promise or agree to wager or stake by or on behalf of any person, any money or valuable thing on a horse race, or other race, fight, game, sport, lottery or exercise or any other event or contingency;

In practice, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) taxes the winnings of punters (people who place bets) when they wage successful bets. It is important to note that placing of bets is a form of entertainment and does not lead to generation of income because it is a consumption.  

Mandate of a bookmaker

A bookmaker is a person who;

  • Is in the business of receiving or negotiating bets on his own account or on behalf of others
  • A person who receives and negotiates bets.

Betting companies, are required to withhold winnings at a rate of 20% as provided by Sections 10(g), 34(1)(m), 34(2)(i), 35(1)(i), 35(3)(h) and Paragraphs 3(i) and 5(i) of The Third Schedule, Head B of the Income Tax Act, Cap 472. This means that if you place a bet and win Ksh 50,000 you will receive Ksh 40,000. The balance of Ksh 10,000 is withheld by the betting company and remitted to KRA. 

Betting tax is chargeable on the gross gaming revenue (GGR) of a bookmaker at the rate of 15% as provided by Section 29A of the Betting, Lotteries & Gaming Act, 1966. Gross gaming revenue means gross turnover less the amount paid out to the customers as winnings. The bookmaker remits 15% of the GGR to KRA on the 20th of every month. Similarly, winnings from casinos, lotteries and prize competitions are taxed at the rate of 15% as provided by sections 55A, 44A and 59B of the BLG Act respectively.

Tax compliance for those who gamble.

It is imperative that each individual involved in betting ensures that they are tax compliant.  Additionally, it is important to note that the withheld amount by the bookmaker is final meaning that you do not have to make declarations in your annual Income Tax Returns.

So the next time you are engaged in betting and you get your full winnings after winning a placed bet, you ought to report such companies to Kenya Revenue Authority for non-compliance.

By Maureen Wangari


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