President Uhuru Kenyatta has signed the Finance Bill 2020/2021, finally scrapping the controversial 20 percent tax on betting that saw giants such as Sportpesa and Betin shut their businesses in Kenya on account of harassment and frustration by the government.
On Tuesday, the National Assembly approved the Finance Bill 2020, which governs how the government will finance its operations in the fiscal year starting July 1.
Among the bill’s features is the elimination of the controversial excise tax on betting that turned the country’s wagering market upside down over the past year.
The tax was the source of the friction between the government and betting firms where a 20% tax on bettors’ winnings that was suspended in 2016 then reintroduced in 2018 applied to the total sum bookmakers paid to winners, i.e. including the original betting stake, making it a 20% tax on turnover. SportPesa, Betin, and other operators ultimately shut their Kenyan operations.
With the President spending his signature, it means the betting firms are going to have a field day just like the old days. The move, according to analysts is going to see an influx of new betting firms as well as the return of those that had shut down such as Sportpesa.
“We are hopeful to resume normal operations. We currently do not have an exact timeline, but we shall communicate officially on any new development,” said Sportpesa in a Twitter post.
A section of Kenyans is excited about the news but others are afraid that the removal of the tax will plunge the country back into the betting expedition that was blamed for the rising cases of depression among the youth.
The Ministry of Interior was on the lead to ensure that betting firms “follow the law” accusing most of them for leading a moral degradation among the youth. The Ministry said at least 74 percent of the youth in Kenya then were gamblers.