Betting industry strain as SportPesa announces its halting operations in Kenya

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SportPesa CEO Roanld Karauri congratulates mega jackpot winner Samuel Abisai
SportPesa CEO Roanld Karauri congratulates mega jackpot winner Samuel Abisai in a past meeting

The betting industry in Kenya is showing more signs of strain as SportPesa announced it’s halting its operations in Kenya, citing a hostile regulatory environment in the country. This comes even as another betting giant Betin declared its staff redundant in a move that could lead to closure of its operations. According to Betin, they’ve had several meetings with government agencies to solve license renewal issue but to no avail.

SportPesa on the other hand, in a statement, has made open its disappointment with the decision by parliament to impose a 20% excise tax on all betting stakes. “The tax is based on a fundamental misunderstanding by the Rotich led Treasury of how revenue generation works in the bookmaker industry. This decision will have a damaging impact on both customers and treasury. Further compounded by the currently in-effect 20% withholding tax on winnings, the economic incentive to place bets will be completely removed as the taxes will deprive consumers of their total winnings,” read part of the statement.

The decision by SportPesa, along with Betin, is a culmination of months of struggles between the betting industry and the government, which is focused on ensuring the betting culture rampant among Kenyans is tamed. It remains to be seen what will follow after, with ripple effects and different reactions sure to follow.