Self-regulation option for gaming industry – Daily Nation


The success of the online sports betting companies in Kenya has made the gaming industry a sweet target for the government with regard to taxation at the primary level and problem gambling at a secondary level.

The new 35 per cent monthly tax on betting revenue, gaming revenue, lottery turnover and gross turnover for prize competition, up from 7.5, 12, 5 and 15 per cent, respectively, took effect on January 1. The gaming firms, particularly SportPesa and Pambazuka National Lottery, have negatively reacted to the new law, with the former withdrawing its sponsorship of local sports and the latter suspending its operations.

Whether the government will baulk at this reaction is yet to be seen. However, considering how it has responded to the sulking of the bankers over the interest rate cap, the gaming industry should probably adopt a different strategy.

Given that the reason cited for the increased taxation is based on alleged negative social effects of gaming, the industry can adopt self-regulation to counter this State intervention.


Instructively, before the 2017 Finance Bill (now Finance Act 2017) was introduced in the National Assembly, MPs were debating the Betting, Lotteries and Gaming (Amendment) Bill, 2016 — sponsored by Jakoyo Midiwo — which not only proposed higher taxes but also a raft of changes to the Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Act to deal with problem gambling.

That included a higher age limit for gambling, extensive self-exclusion, restrictive advertising and discounting, cap on winnings, online betting cap, stringent registration requirements for online gamblers, limits on mobile phones in online gambling, local shareholding requirements and limited gambling hours. This would have greatly hampered the ease of providing and taking part in gaming.

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