Bookmakers in Kenya are reportedly breathing a sigh of relief this week after President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) put his signature to legislation that has more than halved their blanket tax rate to 7.5%.
According to a Tuesday report from SBCNews, sportsbetting firms in the African nation were left stunned in 2018 after federal legislators passed a measure that instituted an across-the-board 20% turnover tax. The source detailed that this crippling duty was soon challenged in court and resulted in the Kenyan Revenue Authority being asked to officially justify why it had pushed for the doubling of a rate that had previously stood at a more modest 10%.
Reportedly facing concerted pressure to sign off on his country’s proposed budget for the upcoming financial year and Kenyatta subsequently ordered Treasury Secretary Ukur Yatani Kanacho to conduct a strategic review into the controversial tax rate for bookmakers. This examination by the former ambassador purportedly later recommended that the government amend its Finance Bill 2021 in order to oblige all gaming operators including those involved in sportsbetting and lotteries to pay a blanket 7.5% turnover duty.
Despite this counsel and its ensuing endorsement by the National Assembly’s influential Finance and Planning Committee, uncertainty as to whether Kenyatta would actually agree to such a decrease reportedly abounded owing to his known long-standing opposition to gambling. This ambiguity purportedly continued an uninviting trend that had seen several big-name sportsbetting operators including British firm SportPesa vacate the Kenyan market in protest at the 20% tax rate.
However, 59-year-old Kenyatta has now reportedly signed off on the amendment to lower the gambling tax rate and present a welcome tonic to companies such as SportPesa, which re-entered the Kenyan sportsbetting market last year under the new ownership of Milestone Games Limited before immediately having its license suspended by the Betting Control and Licensing Board owing to an outstanding tax bill. The move is to moreover purportedly sure to be applauded by Swedish outfit Betsson AB in the wake of its recent launch of the Betsafe Kenya brand in partnership with licensed incumbent Bet High Kenya.
Nikhil Hira serves as a director for South African law firm Bowmans and he reportedly told Business Daily Africa that the revised 7.5% tax rate will now be applied to all turnover earned from the first day of July. He purportedly went on to disclose that Kenyatta’s decision should additionally help the nation of some 55 million people to avoid similar past impasses that led to the loss of significant tax revenues.
Hira reportedly stated…
“In 2018 and 2019 there were big delays and the President refused to sign till sometime after October. The sole purpose was to get every tax measure in the bill to be in place by July 1.”