Using cellphones to gamble online in Kenya

Last year was a bad year for Kenyan betting companies and their consumers, who mostly use mobile phones to make bets. The BCLB shut down the sector after the government accused operators of not paying enough taxes.

Also highlighted by the industry’s crackdown was the role of mobile phones, particularly smartphones. They utilize the betting platforms’ mobile applications to make their bets, such as Betway Mobile App or any of the country’s over 20 big betting organizations.

Many betting aficionados protested when BCLB ordered Kenyan telecom companies to suspend mobile shortcodes and paybill numbers used to deposit funds into betting accounts and withdraw winnings. The injunction reportedly affected at least 27 betting businesses, including Betway, causing up to 12 million consumers to withdraw their funds or lose them.

A GeoPoll and Ipsos study conducted last year revealed the influence of cellphones on general betting patterns in the nation.

The study indicated that smartphone owners and non-smartphone (or feature phone) users had very different gambling prevalence and behaviours.

The GeoPoll study indicated that just 40% of individuals using feature phones put bets (or gamble), compared to 64% of those with smartphones. Again, just 27% of females who possess feature phones place wagers or gamble.

In terms of mobile applications, the GeoPoll study indicated that 88 percent of gamblers utilized their mobile device to make bets. Among this group, 55% make weekly or more wagers on their phones. The ease of access to mobile phone gaming has drastically revolutionized the betting business.

With so many people now utilizing mobile devices to access betting sites and platforms, the future of conventional casinos is uncertain.

The GeoPoll study shows that traditional and conventional casinos are less popular among gamblers, with just 36% of gamblers reporting that they make bets inside casino premises, and a third of those who go to casinos reporting that they do so once a month or less.

Cyber cafés and betting shops (where customers buy pre-marked betting slips) are likewise losing favor, with just 28% and 33% of the gambling population claiming to use them.

But what do individuals and bettors gamble on most?

Football is the most popular sport to gamble on in Kenya, with 83 percent of respondents saying they do so, followed by lotteries with 11%. Lotteries are also favoured by older gamblers, with 22% of respondents preferring them, and females preferring them over men.

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