SportPesa Shareholder Sues Government Over High Taxes, Uhuru Gives Reasons For Action

A SportPesa shareholder has sued the government for its crippling increase of taxes on betting companies.

Bradley Limited Trading, as Pambazuka National Lottery, sued Treasury CS Henry Rotich for acting in excess of his powers in increasing their tax burden.

Also sued were Attorney General Githu Muigai, Interior CS Joseph Nkaissery and the Betting Control and Licensing Board.

Read Also: Kenya’s 2017/18 Budget: Government Imposes Punitive 50% Tax On Betting Industry

The SportPesa shareholder contends that the constitution does not provide for tax or licensing fees to be imposed. It also says that betting companies were not consulted with respect to the proposal to enhance taxation measure.

It is seeking orders to reverse the increment decision and also wants the order suspended pending the hearing and determination of its case.

CS Rotich made the announcement of the 50 percent increment in all betting categories while reading the 2017/18 budget. He noted that betting and gaming have become widespread with the sector being inadequately regulated.

“The expansion of the industry has had negative social effects on society, especially on the youths and vulnerable members of the society,” said Rotich.

Speaking at the Four Years of Jubilee event at the KICC, President Kenyatta agreed with Rotich’s claim but admitted that the legislation was a “bitter pill”.

“We were very concerned about the rise in betting especially among our school going children,” said Uhuru.

“This technology has been very positive and has a very positive impact but it also has a downside. We felt as a responsible government, we needed to ensure that we made it more difficult for people to bet and indeed, those who wanted to bet, that money should go to causes that are social in nature, and that benefit the very same young people.”

The president said there was an outcry by the gaming industry which thinks the government had gone too high. He, however, said he would rather go too high than too low but called for an engagement on the matter.

“It is not our intention to kill your industry or your sector. If indeed we are too high, we have a reasonable and responsible minister and parliament which can review it. The agenda is not to kill the industry but to take care of some of the problems that that industry has caused.”