Has Kenya’s Government Been Fair to Bookmakers?

Kenya has one of Africa’s largest betting markets, with many young individuals actively engaging.

The Kenyan government has just delivered some important power blows to the country’s betting businesses. However, despite the hostile environment, internet betting continues to thrive in the nation, with legal companies like betway prospering.

Safaricom recently announced that Kenyans spent KSh. 83.2 billion on betting deposits through M-Pesa between April and September, a 69% rise year-on-year.

It’s as though the government understands that no matter what rules or regulations they pass, the sector will prosper. President Uhuru Kenyatta, an ardent opponent of gambling, has vowed to outlaw it in Kenya. That didn’t happen, but the government has been threatening and taxing betting businesses.

Currently, the KRA gets 7.5 percent of each wager and an extra 20% on wins. That’s after the Betting Control and Licensing Board’s other business taxes (BCLB).

While these companies must still pay taxes, several of them actively participate in sports sponsorships and other marketing as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility. It is reasonable to argue that these betting enterprises have benefitted the Kenyan economy.

So, has the state been fair to these bookmakers?

Betting sites make a lot of money in Kenya, and they should give back to the nation that has given them so much. In 2019, the government demanded that top betting platforms like SportPesa pay taxes on both stakes and profits.

The tax on bets was fixed at 20%.

The government then suspended the licenses of 27 enterprises, citing about Ksh. 60 billion in unpaid taxes. The government has recently reduced the levy on betting stakes to 7.5 percent. That makes more sense. The rising prevalence of gambling addiction, underage betting, and the overall impact of betting on minors have all been difficulties for the Kenyan government.

Kenya has one of Africa’s largest betting markets, with many young individuals actively engaging. Regrettably, the betting obsession has reached youngsters. To combat these vices, the government has made betting regulations as strict as possible.

And they should be commended for it. They might have folded their arms, collected their money, and watched the country’s young sink into gambling vices, but they sought to manage the situation and demanded greater accountability from betting companies.

Let’s face it, both sides need one other. The government has money, and the operators need it. They may not be the best of friends, but they must work together. Kenya is large enough for both sides.

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