Ten new betting firms have secured licences to operate in Kenya in the current financial year. Betting firms 44Bet, Clarity, Betmo, BetKali, SavvyBet, Play2Net, ChapBet, TigonBet, Ealotto and ChapBet are the newest kids in the multi-billion shilling worth industry. They join premiers like SportPesa and Betika for a share of the ever-growing pie. As a result of the latest licences, the total number of registered betting firms in Kenya now comes to 71.These betting providers come into the market at a time when the government is increasing taxes in a bid to control gambling. A 12.5% excise tax that came into effect on July 1, 2023, does not appear to deter betting firms. Similarly, punters are not repelled by the 20% withholding tax levied on their winnings. Instead, some are even going to court to fight certain levies.
Betting Firms or Punters – Who is the Control Target?
Kenya’s Treasury Cabinet Secretary, Prof. Njuguna Ndung’u still insists that taxes can be used to curb gambling. In his budget speech, the CS said, “To discourage participation in these activities by Kenyans and especially school-going children, I propose to the National Assembly to increase the rate of excise duty on betting, gaming, prize competition and lotteries from the current rate of 7.5% to 12.5%.” However, the latest development appears to defy that logic.Furthermore, it raises questions whether the government is really keen to control gambling or just out to raise revenue. Despite the latest developments, the Betting Control and Licencing Board (BCLB) wants more taxes. The regulator proposes a 15% tax on betting firms’ gross revenue. Additionally, they want a 1% monthly charge on this gross gaming revenue. They say this collection will be used to fight betting addiction among young Kenyans. Gambling addiction campaigns and rehabilitation centres are highlighted as key tools.
Despite the raging taxes, the latest entrance of licenced betting firms is a win for punters in Kenya. It shows the government’s continued protection of punters. Playing in a licensed house gives punters a channel to legally settle disputes that may arise.