Kenyan Government removes controversial tax on betting stakes

Operators in the Kenyan gambling market will no longer be subject to a 20% excise tax on sportsbook stakes after Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta signed the country's new Finance Bill into law.

Kenya

The controversial bill was first introduced in September 2018. It reduced tax on gross gaming revenue from 35% to 15%, while introducing a new 20% tax on bettors’ winnings.

Last summer, tensions between the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and the country’s operators reached an all-time-high when the KRA argued the 20% tax on winnings also applied to betting stakes.

The KRA subsequently suspended the licenses of 27 sports betting operators, including that of SportPesa – the first online sportsbook to receive a Kenyan license in 2013.

As a result, the nation’s two largest operators, SportPesa and Betin, made the decision to exit the market.

Speaking with Gambling Insider shortly after making the decision, Ronald Karauri, SportPesa CEO, described the Kenyan market as an “over-taxed and unfair operating environment.”

The excise tax remained in the first version of the 2020 Finance Bill, but the National Assembly’s Finance and National Planning Committee proposed that it be removed, insisting that the tax had increased player interest in the black market.

This amendment was subsequently approved and has been signed into law by President Kenyatta.

SportPesa has expressed its interest in returning to Kenya and is currently in discussions with the Kenyan Government for the renewal of its license.

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