Poker is a game that is increasing in popularity in many countries around the world, with one such location being Kenya. There are now an estimated that there are over 7,700 poker tables in casinos venues worldwide, with a further 2,300 in card rooms and almost 20,000 gaming machine outlets for the game.
Each year the figure for poker tables continues to rise as demand grows for the game. There is also a huge market for the online version of the game. Online poker alongside sports betting holds the majority of the market share in the global online gambling industry, which is now estimated to be worth over $45 billion US dollars and expected to grow to $67 billion US dollars by the year 2025.
Kenya has one of the highest poker playing rates in the whole of Africa, which is likely due to the amount of casino venues that there are. There are at least 13 casinos in the country, all of which have at least one poker table to play at.
The standard of players in the country is mixed, ranging from those who take the game very seriously betting high stakes, to those who just play for fun, in poker terms, these players are the underdogs but they always have a chance!
One of the best locations to visit if you are a fan of poker is the capital city, Nairobi. There are a number of great venues including the well-known Resort Kenya Limited Casino Poker Room, which has a number of live poker options to choose from.
The gambling industry in Kenya is set to reach a turnover of almost $50 million dollars this year.
It isn’t just land based poker that is popular with the residents and visitors in this country, online poker rooms and casinos are also well loved. There are a huge number of online casinos and this number is growing at a rapid pace.
Online poker is much more popular in Kenya compared to other African countries due to the high rates of internet access and usage in the country. Around half of Kenyan people have access to the internet, this is a high rate in comparison to places where access is as low as two percent.
A lot of online poker players play from their mobile phones due to the ease of access and the convenience a phone offers in comparison to a larger, slower desktop device. In Kenya, around 60 percent of mobile gamblers play on modern smartphone devices, while the other 40 percent play on a regular phone.
Out of all of these mobile gamblers, around 55 percent of them participate in some form of gambling at least once a week.
The demographic for online gambling is fairly similar to other countries, with younger players favouring games on smartphones. In Kenya, the most popular age group to gamble is those aged between 25 years old and 34 years old, with most players identifying as male.
Where the demographics differ slightly between Kenya and western countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom is the socio-economic class of players. In the western world, players are often from a middle-income background, whereas in Kenya residents who gamble are often from a lower socio-economic background.
The impact of this is that in Kenya, platers generally wager lower amounts of cash but at a higher frequency when compared to high stakes players elsewhere.
What does the law say about playing poker in Kenya?
Gambling was first made legal in the country in 1966, not long after their independence from Great Britain was declared. This was when the Betting Control and Licensing Board was enacted to oversee all gambling in Kenya.
All gambling venues including poker rooms must be licenced and approved by this board, any venues operating without this licence are acting unlawfully. In 2014, the government of Kenya brought in a new law that increased the amount of tax that casinos must pay from their earnings.
Unlike many other countries, online gambling is also legal in this country and it is even regulated. There are very few online poker sites based in Kenya at present, but as demand grows it is possible that more will join the market.
If I want to play poker in Kenya, where can I go?
As mentioned, there are a number of land-based casinos and poker rooms in the country to choose from. While many cater more for tourists, they are also accessible to those who live there.
In the area of Malindi there is one main casino called Casino Malindi, which is just 10 minutes from the local airport. At this venue you will find many games, including video poker machines and Indian Ocean Stud Poker.
Over in Mombasa there are at least four casinos to choose from, these include Florida Casino Mombasa, Golden Key Casino, John Power Kenya and also the Leisure Lodge Beach and Golf Resort which has a sizable casino within it.
If you’re in the capital city and wish to take a break from the safari walks and visiting the giraffes, it is recommended that you visit Bollywood Casino, as the venue offers great poker and great food. It is also in an ideal location to enjoy Nairobi’s other night-time entertainment, shopping facilities and dining options.
Lastly, in the Ukunda area there is the Diani Reef Beach Resort & Spa that contains a good casino. Aside from its poker options, you can also enjoy the beautiful views of both the oceans and the tropical gardens.