If recently suggested revisions to the Gaming Bill 2019 pass through Parliament without a hitch, Kenya’s gaming sector might be in for its most difficult year to yet, according to industry analysts.
According to local news sites, the National Assembly’s Sports Committee is pushing for the imposition of extra taxes and levies on the business, and it wants these measures in place by the end of the current fiscal year in June 2020, according to the committee.
The committee has suggested the adoption of a 1 percent gaming charge on the entire income earned by sports betting providers, which would be collected by the state. Companies who fail to pay the tax might face fines of up to KES200,000 if they are found to be in default. The money collected via penalties would be used to support the National Gaming Authority and its efforts to rein in unlicensed and unregulated gaming companies.
Victor Munyaka, Chairman of the National Assembly’s Sports Committee, commented on the newly proposed revisions, stating that the changes will be implemented in the following ways:
According to them, “it was a priority item before we broke for break,” and they want to “fast-track it when the House returns in order to put the tax reforms into effect this fiscal year.”
In the midst of a difficult period for Kenya’s sports betting business, reports of the likely imposition of additional gambling taxes and levies have surfaced. SportPesa and Betin, two of the industry’s most prominent operators, both left the Kenyan market in the autumn of last year, claiming “a hostile operating climate” as the reason for their decision to leave.
A bitter dispute with Kenyan regulators and lawmakers over license renewal issues and the imposition of a 20 percent excise tax on all betting stakes placed by Kenyan bettors erupted earlier this year, with both operators and a number of other Kenya-facing gambling companies embroiled in the stalemate.
Fees for renewing licenses have been raised, as have taxes on betting advertisements.
According to the committee’s recommendations, the licensing costs that operators are needed to pay in order to be awarded permission to operate in Kenya should be significantly reduced. KES50 million will be required to get licenses for all types of internet gambling; totalisator licenses will cost KES5 million; land-based casinos would cost KES10 million; prize contests will cost KES10 million; and private lottery licenses will cost KES15 million.
Operators who have already obtained a license, on the other hand, will be required to pay higher renewal costs. Thus, instead of a KES30 million cost every three years, online gambling firms will be obliged to pay a KES15 million yearly renewal fee, which will be collected every year. KES5 million will be required from retail betting operators every year; KES1 million from totalisers; and KES500,000 from prize competition providers in order to renew their licenses. KES3 million will be required from casino license holders every year; and KES500,000 will be required from prize competition providers in order to renew their licenses.
If the proposed reforms are passed, they will have an impact on the betting advertising business as well. It was revealed over the weekend that media outlets would be required to pay a 35 percent tax on money generated from betting advertisements. According to a report on the proposed modifications to the Gaming Bill 2019, persons are not permitted to “hold themselves out through advertising, promotion, notice, or public sign with the intention of luring members of the public to engage in gaming.” In other words, the revisions are intended to prevent endorsements from individuals who pose as bet winners. Additionally, according to the report, the National Gaming Authority will be given more powers in order to conduct security checks, vetting, and due diligence in relation to any gambling activities occurring on Kenyan territory. The authority will also be given more authority to handle complaints against gaming licensees, conduct investigations, and impose penalties.
Kenyan gaming authorities are being challenged in court by “any anyone offended by a judgment,” according to the Sports Committee, which has suggested the formation of a Gaming Arguments Committee to hear their appeals.