The row over the decision by the government through the Ministry of Interior and the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) to ban some betting firms continues to boil with different quarters coming up to fault the government.
At the start of the month of July, the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) failed to renew operations licenses for 27 betting firms accusing some of them of failing to remit their taxes to Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) as required by law.
A few days letter, KRA cleared 10 of the 27 firms who license had been suspended after they “met the requirements” but refused to do the same for other giant betting firms such as SportPesa and Betin.
What shocked many Kenyans were the allegations from the taxman that SportPesa among the non-compliant firms in terms of paying taxes when the same taxman had awarded SportPesa, three times in a row for being the best taxpayer.
SportPesa has for years been an icon in Kenyan gaming and sporting atmosphere with its permit suspension being felt across the board.
SportPesa has already canceled sponsorship for all the sporting activities in the country including support for Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards.
“We regrettably wish to announce that due to the uncertainty of this situation, SportPesa will be canceling sports sponsorship effective immediately. All clubs and partners will have received notices as provided in their contracts,” said SportPesa in a statement then.
Senators have come up to fault the government’s move to ban some betting firms such as SportPesa. Led by Senator for Makueni, Mutula Kilonzo Junior, faulted the government for ignoring court orders and frustrating genuine businesses. “I refuse a country where the law is used to suffocate honest businesses.”
On Tuesday, the senators issued another statement to the media calling on the government to lift the ban or the economy will soon feel the heat.
“We urge the government, through the institutions that are charged with the responsibility of investigations to proceed swiftly and independently investigate the said matter and if anyone will be found culpable, they can face the due process under the Kenyan law,” said Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala.
The senators have called on the government to look at the interests of the economy and other stakeholders before making a rush decision on the said betting firms.
According to Senators, betting firms such as SportPesa have been key in the sponsorship of sports, culture, and arts-related activities, as well as universal healthcare for Kenyans.
“It is approximated that the government is losing 1 billion shillings every month due to the ban on betting. SportPesa and Betin paid close to 10 billion shillings in taxes in 2018 alone. The allegations that they have not been paying taxes are baseless and unfounded,” said Senator Malala.
The lawmakers have termed allegations from KRA as unlawful saying the law on income tax does not make any reference at all on the taxation of capital. “Taxation of the customer placed stakes in taxation on capital and contravenes the law.”