In Kenya, the effort by parliamentarian Jakoyo Midiwo to pass legislation that would dramatically revamp the nation’s land-based and online gaming industries has been dealt another blow after his proposals were criticized by the Betting Control And Licensing Board regulator.
Midiwo from the Orange Democratic Movement political party introduced his Betting, Lotteries And Gaming (Amendment) Bill in January and the measure would require all online gambling firms in the African nation to be fully owned by Kenyan citizens while imposing severe restrictions on marketing. If passed, the suggested legislation would also reintroduce a 20% tax on winnings, place limits on the amount of money that can be wagered and restrict anyone under the age of 25 from gambling.
As written, the Betting, Lotteries And Gaming (Amendment) Bill would moreover ban telecommunications providers in Kenya from doing business with sportsbetting operators as these would be required to create their own bespoke platforms and was dealt an initial blow earlier this month after Joseph Nkaissery, Internal Security And Coordination Of National Government Secretary for Kenya, initiated government-led legislation concerning the same issues.
In its Monday criticism of Midiwo’s proposed legislation, the Betting Control And Licensing Board pointed out that a tax on winnings had already been tried and had “posed a challenge” due to “the nature of some of the gaming activities” involved.
“The best way would be to make income from gambling above $965 taxable at normal rates and the onus [would then] be on the winner to declare the same while the operators file the requisite documentation,” read a statement from the Betting Control And Licensing Board.
In addition, Midiwo was recently ridiculed by Ronald Karuru, Chief Executive Officer for sportsbetting operator SportPesa and Chairman for the Association Of Gaming Operators, for earlier suggesting that gambling operators in Kenya may be evading tax and facilitating money laundering through their online operations.
“Everything is online [and] transactions are with the bank and it is impossible to do any money laundering, especially with online gaming,” said Karuru.
The gambling industry is Kenya is reportedly worth millions of dollars every year and the Betting, Lotteries And Gaming (Amendment) Bill is currently making its way through a committee led by Orange Democratic Movement representative David Were.
In an opinion piece published on Saturday in the local Daily Nation newspaper, Alloyce Omondi, Acting Chief Executive Officer for the Association Of Gaming Operators, wrote that Midiwo had “blatantly mislead his colleagues and the public” during the debate on his proposed legislation while moreover “skewing his presentation” in order to “create a picture of a major crisis”.
“It was laughable if not painful to watch Gem member of parliament Jakoyo Midiwo blatantly mislead his colleagues and the public during the debate on the Betting, Lotteries And Gaming (Amendment) Bill,” wrote Omondi. “Midiwo needs to read the Geopoll survey released last week that shows only 5% of cash earned by young people is spent on gambling. The majority [at] 55% is spent on personal care, 26% on investments while 6% goes to entertainment. Dear Midiwo, facts are stubborn.”