New Kenyan Gambling Taxes Introduced

Kenya Law

Kenya to Tax All Gambling Activities

Kenya’s crackdown on betting and casino games continues with the latest announcement by Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich. On Thursday 13th of June 2019, Rotich presented the Financial Budget for 2019/2020. One of the new measures to be put in place is a new 10% excise duty would be imposed on all gambling activities.

Gambling Taxation Details

Rotich explained that the government has noted the negative social impact that betting has had, particularly on the youth and other vulnerable members of society, as gambling becomes more widespread. The 10% excise duty would, he said, help to reduce the undesirable effects.

The reactions to the news of the taxation on all wagers have been mixed. Some lawmakers have strongly criticised the move. Ndhiwa MP Martin Peters Owino described himself as disappointed that the tax was only 10%, saying that the National Assembly’s formal suggestion was 30%.

Owino showed how passionately he feels about this issue by adding that gambling had become a problem in Kenyan society, and said that higher taxation, like the 15% that has been imposed on cigarettes and beer, would have been better.

Shake-Up to Kenyan Gaming Laws

Kenya’s gambling laws have been generating plenty of headlines lately. Separate to the new excise duty is the Gaming Bill 2019, currently under consideration in the country’s National Assembly. If passed, this would be the first update to betting legislation since 1966 when the current Betting. Lotteries and Gaming Act came into effect.

The newly proposed Bill is more in line with the current market than the laws written in 1966, and acknowledges the influence and prominence of online operators like Betin Kenya and other leading local brands. If it is passed, higher costs will be imposed on licensed casinos and sportsbooks, and the first Kenyan National Lottery will be established.

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The Bill also proposes that the Betting and Licensing Control Board, the country’s current gambling regulatory authority, be replaced with the National Gaming Authority. In addition, it stipulates that a Gaming Appeals Tribunal be set up to adjudicate all disputes. In addition, foreign operators would be required to have base servers and a physical presence in Kenya, which would create more jobs.

Laws Should Benefit Citizens

While almost every other gambling-related issue is addressed in the Gaming Bill 2019, no mention is made of player taxations. The taxes on winnings will remain at their current level of 15%, and the new 10% on all bets will be taken in separately to that.

In theory, the added tax on betting will allow the government to supplement the revenue it already gets from gambling wins, while regulating the industry to make it safer for players. Increased excise duties are also clearly intended to dissuade excessive betting, and thus help to curtail problem gambling.

The question most insiders are asking at this stage is whether the extra will indeed be used to benefit ordinary citizens – perhaps even being directed to responsible gambling initiatives. Time will tell how Kenya will regulate its casino and sports betting markets, both in relation to the Gaming Bill 2019 and the new 10% duties.