Former Chairman of Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) Kung’u Kimani
has joined other sports stakeholders in opposing the proposed reintroduction of 20 percent excise tax on betting firms in the 2021/22 budget, saying it will take a toll on the local sports industry.
In his Thursday speech at Parliament buildings during the reading of the 2021/22 proposed budget, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani recommended the reintroduction of the tax, which was scrapped by President Uhuru Kenyatta in July 2020.
According to Kimani,the move to reintroduce the excise duty which will see KRA take KSh 20 out of every KSh100 staked whether the punter wins or loses is punitive especially to the sports sector that heavily relies on funding from betting firms.
“That’s very unreasonable,first of all it’s not the prerogative of government to ban betting.It will drive the industry underground and people might decide to go to international platforms which are open in our space then the government loses tax yet they wouldn’t have tamed what they think is a ‘monster’ if that’s the point.
“Our local teams like Gor Mahia and Kariobangi Sharks have managed to play Everton courtesy of betting firms.I mean who would have imagined our players getting to meet the great Wayne Rooney or lady darling Theo Walcott” he remarked.
He further rejected caps on winnings “The world over for instance, lottery winnings in the form of jackpots are progressive in that if it is not won within a set period of time it continues increasing until someone gets lucky.
“Kenya’s industry is benchmarked with global practice and this is simply how it works. If winnings are capped, it will kill the lottery business as practised worldwide” added Kimani
During his stint at BCLB,he formulated regulations and policy frameworks that required the firms to undertake public awareness programmes and advised all companies to ensure that at least five per cent of their advertising space is dedicated to messages dealing with responsible gambling and protection of the underage and vulnerable members of the society.
Local top tier clubs and arch-rivals Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards have already rejected the move saying in a joint statement that it would be detrimental to the gains expected to be made through partnerships of local football and betting companies.
Currently, gaming firm – BetKing is sponsoring the top-flight league and Division One League for five years at a tune of Sh1.2billon and Sh100 million respectively.
Betika is sponsoring the National Super League for three years at Sh90 million while Betsafe signed a three-year deal with Gor and Leopards in 2020. Under the partnership, Gor and Leopards are receiving Sh55 million and Sh40 million respectively per year.
Betmoto on the other hand is shifting base and priorities to supporting grassroot football in order to help unearth untapped potential upcountry.
Earlier this year they pumped Kshs 2 million into Kothbiro Soccer competition which was on the brink of collapsing over lack of a sponsor after the exit of their previous partner,Sportpesa.