Kenya proposes 10% tax on sports betting stakes

14 June 2019

The Kenyan Government has set out plans to introduce a new 10% tax on sports betting stakes as part of a wider effort to clamp down on problem gambling in the country.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich unveiled the proposal yesterday (June 13) as part of the 2019-20 financial budget.

The government has also sought to target tobacco and alcohol in the budget, with both set to be subjected to new 15% excise duties.

“Betting has become widespread in our society and its expansion has had negative social effects, particularly to the young and vulnerable members of our society,” Rotich said.

“In order to curtail the negative effects arising from betting activities, I propose to introduce excise duty on betting activities at the rate of 10% of the amount staked.”

The tax would be separate to a bill that looks to revamp the country’s regulatory framework for gambling.

Currently under consideration in the Kenyan National Assembly, the Gaming Bill 2019 includes measures to introduce higher costs on licensed operators and establish the country’s first national lottery.

The bill proposes replacing Kenya’s existing regulatory authority, the Betting and Licensing Control Board, with a new entity, the National Gaming Authority. This body would take control of enforcing regulations and issuing licences.

Other measures include setting up the Gaming Appeals Tribunal to adjudicate in gambling-related disputes, while foreign operators would be required to have a physical presence and base servers in the country.

The bill also sets out higher licences and related application fees, but does not include any language for higher gambling taxes. The 15% tax rate has been retained, though the legislation makes no mention of the 20% tax imposed on player winnings in September last year.

Kenya raised the gambling tax rate to 35% last year, but later reduced it to 15% after heavy criticism from the industry.