This week has been extra nerve-wracking for Kenya’s sportsbooks as the government is starting to crack down on various entertainment industries that can really get out of hand if not maintained.
The government has imposed an implementation of a 10% tax on sports betting stakes in the 2019-2020 national budget, which was announced this Thursday.
The Secretary of Kenya’s Treasury, Henry Rotich has announced that the country needs to take care of the “sinful” methods of entertainment that are quickly getting out of hand in the country.
According to the secretary, the betting industry managed to get away from the new laws relatively unscathed compared to other industries such as tobacco and alcohol, which will be taxed 15% respectively.
The tax may increase
In fact, the tax increase in betting activities was met with more opposition from the government itself rather than the sportsbooks. Although, it was not an opposition to why the tax was being implemented, but on the fact that it was getting off light when compared to others.
It is actually understandable. Tobacco and Alcohol could have long-term hazardous experiences on a problem user, but betting and gambling are much more immediate issues when it comes to financial security and issues. Some officials said that simply putting a 10% tax does not cure the problem gambling habits of the population, but increases the risk even further because in their pursuit to satiate their addiction, the bettors themselves will be paying more and more.
Not the first hit
Although officials are complaining about the relatively forgiving restrictions on gambling and betting activities, it needs to be considered that this is not the first setback directed towards the industry.
Just recently last month, the country passed another gambling bill, that would increase the fees of getting a gambling license in the country, as well as allow local entities to possess more than 30% stake in the operators’ companies. Furthermore, the country had been hard at work, deporting individuals who claimed to be working legally, when in reality trying to operate unauthorized gaming rigs.
Local operators are also quite indebted to the government in terms of taxes that need to be paid out. Two of them have already faced some legal challenges from authorities seeking to get $100 million in tax back in their treasury.
The regulator is now warning every gambling operator in the country that, if due taxes are not returned July the 1st, all existing liabilities will be considered as a violation of the license contract, which will cause its subsequent revocation.