There is an ongoing crackdown on betting companies, believing that betting should be stamped out. But betting has always existed in human history and always will.
Interior CS Fred Matiang’i recently declared that betting licences would not be renewed after July 1 unless sports betting companies demonstrated they were paying their taxes.
Already the betting companies generate a lot of tax revenue for the KRA. SportPesa paid Sh4.6 billion in tax in 2018 and we can assume that the industry as a whole paid at least twice that.
If government over-taxes the betting industry, the companies will go out of business. Punters – people who bet – will then just migrate to online betting companies outside Kenya who accept bets and pay out through M-Pesa.
Betting will never stop. It will just move offshore to where the Treasury and KRA cannot collect tax on either revenue or winnings. Yet, with sensible tax rates, the sports betting industry can remain regulated and controlled inside Kenya.
The win-win is to preserve tax revenue for the Treasury by allowing the sports betting companies to remain reasonably profitable.