Lawmakers in Kenya first introduced the Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Bill into the National Assembly in June 2015 as the government was looking to impose a 7.5 percent tax on bookmakers and generate more revenue via gambling taxes for the government. There has been slow progress on the bill after the initial attempt to form a special committee to monitor the gaming industry failed.
However, the bill received a second push last week when Members of Parliament (MP) approved its Second Reading. The bill received support from the MPs who believe that imposing a higher gambling tax on the country’s multi-billion dollar gaming industry is the way to proceed as it gave the government a legal way of bringing in significant revenue into its annual budget. The bill is expected to be passed later this week.
Executive through Majority Leader Aden Duale has sponsored the bill which will allow the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to collect taxes from all gaming operators. Currently, there is no tax levied on gaming operators who run lotteries, prize competition and gaming parlors in the country. Should the bill go through, lotteries will have to pay the KRA a 5 percent tax; casinos will have to shell out a 12 percent tax on gross revenue and prize competitions will have to pay out a 15 percent tax on gross revenue which will be determined by the cost of entry.
As the bill comes through the final stages of approval, Duale is pushing for MPs to raise some of the gaming taxes to 20 percent as he states that the objective of the bill is to stop Kenya from being known as a gambling country. Duale also plans on introducing a new bill in the future that will prevent minors from gambling and set in place stipulated fines for all violations.
In a statement, Duale said “This Bill is meant to discourage gambling. Either we gamble and pay huge taxes so that we build roads and provide better healthcare [or stop]. We must introduce a law in this House to prevent gambling from becoming a channel for money laundering and tax evasion.”
Alice Wahome, Kandara MP also wanted MPs to put in place strong regulations especially concerning the locations all gaming parlours and casinos. Her concern was that many of these gaming establishments were located in economically poor areas and hence these gaming operators were targeting the underprivileged who were hoping to have a financial breakthrough via gambling.
Wahome wants these casinos and gambling parlours to be located in high-end places and target the rich. She also wanted regulation in place to prevent minors from accessing these gambling establishments and for licenses to be revoked with no recourse to law for any operator who permitted minors to gamble.