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Why betting is going to be difficult after Government imposes tax on gamblers

SPORTS By Waweru Titus | June 14th 2019 | 2 min read

Kenyan gamblers have been dealt a major blow after National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich proposed a 10 per cent excise duty on betting for every amount staked to curb the negative impact of gambling in society.

While presenting the 2019/20 Financial Year Budget in Parliament on Thursday, CS Rotich said the move is aimed at curtailing the negative impact arising from betting activities.

“Mr Speaker, betting has become widespread in our society and its expansion has had negative social effects, particularly to the young and vulnerable members of our society.

“In order to curtail the negative effects arising from betting activities, I propose to introduce excise duty on betting activities at the rate of ten per cent of the amount staked,” said Rotich.

According to a study done by GeoPoll in 2018, Kenya has the highest number of gambling youth in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and sports betting has become the most popular form of gambling, on the rise of sports betting in the continent.

In Kenya gambling is classified and positioned as a legitimate recreational and leisure activity. The rise of mobile and online based gambling has presented new challenges to the regulatory board amidst growing concerns on addiction towards sports betting.

The success of the gambling industry is also evidenced by increasing advertisements in media such as newspapers, TV and radio.

The Government suffered a huge blow in its bid to control the betting craze after the High Court quashed a ban on outdoor and online advertisement of gambling in May.

Justice John Mativo ruled that the ban issued by the Betting Control and Licensing Board, which also required betting firms to display a warning message in their adverts about the consequences of gambling, was unconstitutional, illegal and procedurally unfair.

His decision was a big win for the Outdoor Advertising Association of Kenya who had argued in their application that the directive was unreasonable, inconsiderate and would lead to loss of millions of shillings through lost opportunities.

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