Looming blow as BBI report proposes to have betting run by government

A past sport pesa winner.The BBI taskforce report has proposed to nationalize betting COURTESY

Betting companies will be forced out of the market if a proposal by the Building Bridges Initiative report to have betting nationalized is passed.

The proposal which is contained in chapter seven which is the shared prosperity chapter says betting firms are impoverishing Kenyans leading to hopelessness and hence proposes to have betting run by a government agency.

“The task force recommends that the private betting industry be replaced with a government-run national lottery whose proceeds as in the case with other countries are used for activities that uplift youth, sports, culture and other social activities beneficial to citizens” the report recommends.

If the proposal is passed, it could push the last nail on the coffin of Kenya’s ailing betting industry.

Woes for the industry once estimated to have been raking upto sh 200 billion annually started after the Kenya Film and Classification Board( KFCB) banned them from advertising on billboards while limiting the running of betting ads in media houses to between 10 pm and 6 am.

Hardly had the dust settled when the taxman imposed a 20% withholding tax on all stakes placed on betting e-wallets further crippling the already ailing industry and further slapped the 20 betting firms operating in the country with more than sh 61 billion in tax arrears.

Last month, betting heavyweights Sport Pesa and Bettin shut down their operations in Kenya citing unfavorable business environments.

However, early this month, a tax dispute tribunal at the Mlimani high court ruled that only the winning amount should be subjected to the 20% withholding tax.

The report which was launched on Wednesday by president Uhuru Kenyatta further proposes to have loaning apps regulated to protect Kenyans from interest rates which the report terms as shylock like.