The push and pull between the State and the gambling firms continues as the government has still revoked betting licenses while firms claim it is unfair.
Earlier in the week, the government had seized licenses from 27 betting firms and has insisted that it won’t renew them until the firms meet the required standards that are stipulated by the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BLCB).
The firms are not only targeted by BLCB, but also by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) where the taxman claims the firms have not been paying taxes in correspondence with the profit they make.
The taxman also claims that Sportpesa earned a total of 200 billion shillings in the year ended December 31, 2018 and only paid a tax of 4 billion shillings.
To counter the claims by KRA, Sportpesa said that government figures are exaggerated as they only earned 20 billion shillings during the year and remitted 6.3 billion shillings in tax.
The leading gambling firm in Kenya, said they have been paying taxes and that they are working tirelessly to ensure they get their license renewed.
“SportPesa is a law-abiding corporate citizen that upholds all tax and regulatory requirements. We remain compliant on all tax payments. We continue to address the licensing matter with industry regulators and stakeholders,” corporate affairs director at SportPesa, John Kiarie says.
Kiarie also says that there is no cause for an alarm as the high court has allowed the firm to operate without any interruption as the issue is being resolved.
A close insight shows that sites still allow gamblers to place bets and even conduct transactions.
Safaricom, which was ordered by the state to close the pay bills for gambling firms that have not renewed their licenses said that it needed further consultations since the closure would go against the law. Safaricom says that individuals would not be able to access their funds.
Safaricom lawyers said in a statement, “The directive to shut down pay bill, SMS and shortcodes will no doubt deny gamers access to their funds.”
The betting vice is a serious addiction especially among the youth but at the same time a source of income to the youth and revenue to the government through tax.
Revoking the betting licenses would mean a serious looming crisis to both involved parties.