Kenya gambling position reversing

Published Jun 25, 2020
[2 mins read]
Kenya’s National Assembly has decided to scrap a controversial budget bill. It would have requested sports betting companies to pay arrears on already taxed revenue and levy players’ winnings with a 20% tax.
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Following a bold position that saw some of the biggest betting agencies exit the Kenyan market, lawmakers have finally decided to reverse the 20% excise tax on stakes. SportPesa, one of the largest and most respected bookies, also left last year, biting deep into the state’s purse.

As well as offering extensive tax revenue to the budget, SportPesa was sponsoring several teams. It has been almost half a year since the polemic started. While previously lawmakers seemed intransigent and determined to strong arm betting agencies into paying more, the consensus has been that the gung ho approach has cost the public purse too much.

Even Finance Committee Chair Joseph Kirui Limo agreed that leaving the current tax rates unchanged would bring in more revenue. SportPesa, the biggest name in the bottleneck, cancelled all sports partnerships in August and said it would not cave in to the 20% tax on player winnings.

SportPesa recently lost a sponsorship deal with Everton, after the company made a gaffe on social media. Meanwhile, there have been some pushback against the gambling industry as well, with the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) claiming that betting companies were leading to “hopelessness” and responsible for social issues in the country.

Nevertheless, Betsafe, a sports betting agency owed by Betsson, has signed two new partnerships with Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards, marking a return of sports betting companies back in Kenya.

Meanwhile, Kenyans have had the opportunity to try their luck at several established sports betting agencies that accept cryptocurrency as their main betting asset, including SportsBet.io and 1xBit.

It seems that the threat of viable, quality crypto casinos is putting regulators under pressure to deliver a working gambling industry that doesn’t live in the shadows.

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CGN senior journalist 

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