Kenyan gambling tax increase given judicial support, SportPesa reacts

By Doug Peck
A Kenyan judge has ruled that the country’s controversial gambling tax increase has been delivered in a legal manner, resulting in SportPesa carrying out its threat of withdrawing football sponsorship.

High Court Judge John Mativo announced his ruling on Thursday, stating that the new 35% tax on casinos, raffles, lotteries, and betting would serve the public interest by funding arts, sports and cultural projects in the country. The revised tax rate, up from 7.5%, will take effect 1 January 2018.

As a result, Nick Mwendwa, President of the Football Kenya Federation, relayed to local media that the sportsbetting firm SportPesa was ending its sponsorship of the football league due to the new tax. Mr. Mwendwa revealed that they would lose KES120m in annual contributions from the operator as a result.

The retrenchment will also affect local football clubs AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia, who will also lose SportPesa’s sponsorship support. The clubs’ officials have been urging all affected parties to lobby the Kenyan government to review its decision and introduce a more fair and attractive taxation scheme.

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