Kenya Finance Bill Revoking Tax Awaits President’s Approval

Kenya’s National Assembly has approved the nation’s new Finance Bill, which will end the controversial 20 percent excise tax of Kenyan betting on all gambling wagers.

The 20 percent excise tax first introduced during the fiscal year 2019/2020 saw all licence holders of Kenya Betting Control Board (BCLB) protest its enforcement as a market killer.

Several Kenyan licensees left the market in the events of a tumultuous 2019, citing the enforcement of blanket tax and the aggressive demand of the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) that bookmakers pay retrospective taxes on player winnings.

SportPesa and Betin led the industry’s fight against the KRA’s sanctions, with both providers ultimately blacklisted off the market, which eventually forced their betting services to be withdrawn.

An entity named Shade.co.ke, which has pleaded for the government to drop the controversial tax to help cash-strapped local sports clubs, has reportedly proposed the Finance Bill amendment.

The prospects for the reform are further improved with support from the ‘Finance & Planning Committee’ of the National Assembly, which has urged the government to ‘reverse┬áthe negative effects’ of its current policy.

The Committee, in favour of the amendment, underlined that KRA gambling taxes had been drained by customers who turned to unlicensed operators to position their wagers.

Kenya ‘s Finance Bill has been forwarded for executive review and approval to President Uhuru Kenyatta where no guarantee can be certain.

Last August, in support of the KRA, President Kenyatta ordered all Kenyan registered banks and telecom providers to suspend all payment processing services immediately and freeze all accounts attached to licenced operators.

Enforcing a blackout on all gambling facilities, President Kenyatta further told customs to detain executive gambling passports, saying betting CEOs could not leave the country until their tax accounts were settled.

However, the cabinet of President Kenyatta has previously tabled constitutional amendments that urge the National Assembly to support Kenya ‘s gambling sector’s wholesale privatisation.