On Friday, Twitter timelines were “lit” as the famous Kenyans On Twitter (KOT) would call it. It all started after one of the betting firms in Kenya effected the 20 percent tax on both the stake and win placed on games.
It was evident that Kenyans had just been hearing about the taxman going after their stakes and win in betting firms but none of the firms had implemented it. The first firm to implement the move was Betika and it surely felt the heat online for the better part of Friday.
As one of the “investors”, (investor is a term that gamers use to refer to themselves every time they place a bet), I felt the heat too. I felt being robbed with the violence of what is rightfully mine not by the betting firm but by Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).
The manner in which the government is handling the betting industry in Kenya is appalling, shocking and disastrous. It seems like a deliberate move by the concerned authorities to severely punish not only the companies but Kenyans who do business with the companies too.
The 20 percent withholding tax on gaming payouts, which includes the stake and the win is a daylight robbery that should not be accepted. It is the same as penetrating the pockets of poor Kenyans and taking away whatever they have by force.
Why should I place a bet, win then KRA comes to literally loot 20 percent of my stake and win? If KRA feels so jealous, why can’t it place its own bet? Why can’t they bet and win as well? Am now thinking like a furious investor who is being robbed. Call me whatever you like.
If I place a stake, that is my money. The money is not being used to purchase anything. It is like the money is still in my pocket. Why should someone come and take 20 percent of it? If this is not them, what is it? The government, in conjunction with KRA, is stealing from the vulnerable, from the common mwananchi on the ground.
Betting is fun. For me, betting is entertainment. Why is my entertainment money being taxed when I have already paid income tax in the first place? Also, I feel the government should interpret what “winnings” mean. Do “winnings” include my stake? Is the tax being paid by the firms not enough?
If my memory serves me right, there is a court injunction in place and the dispute is to follow the Tax Procedures Act to resolve it. The greed of KRA is not helping the gaming industry in any way. If anything, it is promoting offshore betting. Nothing will stop us from betting with firms outside Kenya and soon KRA will have nothing to tax.