Kenya has witnessed exponential growth in its gambling industry in the last few years making it one of the hottest markets in Africa. The gambling industry has provided over 5,000 employment opportunities for locals and has also brought in foreign investment as a number of overseas operators have set up shop in Kenya.
On the surface it looks like Kenya does have a thriving gambling industry but the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) and the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) are not very happy.
This is because they say that betting companies in Kenya have not paid their gaming taxes and now owe a combined amount of over 26 billion KSH which is around $258 million.
There are a number of complications with Kenya’s tax laws that has caused a rift between the KRA and betting companies. The KRA wanted betting operators to collect taxes on player winnings but companies have not done that because of the confusion with tax laws. The matter has been taken before the courts and a final decision is yet to be made.
The BCLB and the KRA have their hands tied and are not very happy over the fact that they are losing out on billions of KSH. As a result, they have issued some strong statements this week to send a clear message to the gambling industry.
Deportation And No Automatic License Renewals
Gambling licenses for most operators are set to expire on June 30 and were earlier expected to be renewed automatically. That will no longer be the case as Interior CS Fred Matiang’i has confirmed that licenses will only be renewed for those operators who have paid their taxes.
In a statement, CS Matiang’i said
All applicants for new licenses or renewal of licenses will undergo security vetting. Renewal of licences will be pegged on due payment of taxes backed with all supporting evidence.
The CS is also not happy with offshore operators who have profited heavily by offering their services to the Kenyan market but are not paying their taxes and instead sending most of the revenues back to their countries.
The CS also threatened to sign deportation letters and send back their foreign employees who were working in Kenya. Most of the foreign employees in Kenya are from Italy, China and Bulgaria. As of now, betting operators are yet to respond to these threats.