Sports betting companies in Kenya have been facing some major difficulties this year. Fortunately, members of the country’s parliament are working to keep the sports betting industry alive. MP’s here are calling for these companies’ gaming licenses to be returned.
There are some that feel Kenya’s entire gambling industry may be in trouble of failing. It’s great to see some members of the government work against this. Let’s look at exactly what’s happening here.
Sports betting has been steadily growing in Kenya for years. The first set of laws to regulate this industry came all the way back in 1966 when the Betting Control and Licensing Board was established. Today, Kenya allows foreign gambling sites to operate in the country after obtaining a license from the government.
Many of the biggest online gambling companies in Europe now run here. As a result, the popularity of online sports betting in Kenya is surging right now. 11 out of 20 Google searches in the country mention sports gambling.
Kenya’s government recognizes the popularity of sports betting and is now looking to earn their piece of the revenue pie. Unfortunately, the way that they’re cracking down on companies is destroying the industry. The Kenya Revenue Authority is claiming that SportPesa, the top sportsbook in Kenya, owes more than $100 million in unpaid taxes.
That’s not all. The KRA has also suspended the licenses of 27 other sports betting companies in Kenya, claiming they owe a combined $586 million in taxes to the government. Fortunately, MP’s in Kenya are pushing against this crackdown.
12 members of Kenya’s parliament recently condemned the government’s decision to suspend sports betting licenses. Senator Cleophas Malala claims that this decision has caused thousands of Kenyans to lose their jobs. Malala also believes that the tax payment request is ridiculous.
The prominent senator disagrees with the current tax structure set on the gambling industry. He states that the taxation of gambler’s winnings equates to a tax on their capital. In Kenya, individuals are only taxed based on income. He told the media that forcing these companies to leave the country is a violation of the law, as the companies paid money to gain a license to operate here.
MP Samuel Atandi believes that the majority of sports betting companies in Kenya pay all taxes that are owed. He states that the main issue lies with the government’s decision to tax player’s winnings.
“Most of these betting companies have complied with both corporate and gaming taxes. The problem is with the taxation on winnings,” he said. “KRA has to open negotiations with these companies so that they can agree on an amicable solution to solve this matter.”
It’s great to see these MP’s side with the gambling industry on this one. Unfortunately, the KRA has shown no signs of letting up on its demands. What can we expect to happen here in the future?
The recent government crackdown has crippled Kenya’s gambling market. All legal betting companies here have seen their licenses removed. SportPesa has even stopped sponsoring football teams in the country while it fights the government’s decision.
As you might expect, this is leading to a huge surge in illegal gambling. Many European sports betting websites without a license are available in Kenya. The government earns no revenue from these website’s operations. Lawmakers may realize this and decide it’s time to allow the licensed sports betting companies in Kenya to resume their operations.
With MP’s now fighting against the KRA, this may come sooner than expected. SportPesa and several other gambling companies here are taking this case to Kenya’s High Court. The courts may take the MP’s opinions into account and rule that the massive tax demands for sports betting companies in Kenya are baseless.
There are still many ways that this scenario can play out. Make sure to stay tuned for more updates on the situation over the next few months.
Do you think the legal sports betting companies in Kenya should be given their licenses back? When will the government decide to give up? Let us know in the comments section below!
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