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Betting firms: ‘Midiwo Bill’ to kill gambling

The proposed law by Gem Member of Parliament Jakoyo Midiwo to regulate gambling will end up killing the industry, betting companies have said.

Their representatives asked a National Assembly committee to defer it until after consultations and a compromise reached.

Members of the association of betting firms met the committee on social welfare and said the Bill is misguided.

“The Bill requires significant amendments. It would not be the same Bill as it was at the first reading,” said Association of Gaming Operators of Kenya chairman Ronald Karauri.

The second reading was on Thursday afternoon.

Mr Karauri said the draft law would breach the Constitution and make it difficult to run gaming companies.

“There appears to be a concerted targeting of the industry through measures that are designed to cripple the industry,” Mr Karauri said.

Mr Karauri batted away claims that gambling is addictive, saying: “That I cannot take. It has never been scientifically proven that betting is addictive.

“It is my personal belief that if there was a problem with betting, it would not grow.”

READ: MPs close in on betting firms with high taxes Bill

READ: Midiwo’s Bill seeks to tame gambling

The association presented a report from the police showing that there was no truth in claims on social media and by one media house that a person committed suicide after losing a bet.

Mr Karauri said the amendment to the law on their taxation last year had led to double taxation — on revenue and then on their profits.

He said taxing revenues and profits would begin on February 20.

“Kenya Revenue Authority say they don’t know about taxes, yet they are aware that they have been collecting significant revenue,” he added.

Members of the committee were surprised to hear that betting firms pay tax — one paid Sh700 million in 2015.

They however told the association that the Bill would not be deferred and asked them to draft their desired amendments.

“There is some urgency in the matter,” David Were, the committee chairman, said.

Cherangany MP Wesley Korir (independent) said: “We cannot just say that we defer. Bring your proposals. Let’s sit again. Let’s talk again. Let’s become friends and we deal with this.”

The association’s lawyer, Mr Mwangi Muturi, said the law would violate the right to property as foreigners in local betting firms would be removed.

Mr Midiwo’s Bill proposes to increase betting tax from 7.5 per cent to 15 per cent of revenues, lottery tax from five per cent to 20 per cent of their turnover, gaming tax from 12 per cent to 20 per cent of revenue and prize competition tax from 15 per cent to 20 per cent.

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