Data by Safaricom has indicated that Kenyan bettors spent KSh 169.1 billion to place bets through Safaricom’s M-PESA in the year to March.
The telecommunication company noted that value of bets increased by KSh 33 billion or a 23.8 percent increase from KSh 136 billion a year earlier.
This increase comes despite the government’s imposition of higher taxes on both betting firms and bettors.
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Safaricom noted that it earned KSh 5.98 billion from betting transactions, a 40.4 percent growth from KSh 4.26 billion in the previous year.
At the same time, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani recently proposed to heavily tax gamblers by raising the excise duty on cash wagered on betting, gaming, prize competition and buying a lottery ticket from the current 7.5 percent.
If approved by MPs, betting firms will be required to withhold and forward KSh 200 out of every KSh 1,000 wagered regardless of whether the punter wins or loses.
On the other hand, gamblers will pay a 20 percent tax on winnings that betting firms are required to withhold and remit to the taxman.
For instance, if one wins KSh 10,000, he or she will receive KSh 8,000 as the KRA takes KSh 2,000.
The higher tax is part of proposed changes to the Excise Duty Act through the Finance Bill 2022 that targets to raise KSh 50.4 billion in new taxes.
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The targeted amount of money is set to help fund KSh 3.31 trillion budget for the year starting July 2022.
Yatani argued that gambling and gaming have become addictive and can result in a variety of harmful repercussions.
Betting firms licensed to operate in Kenya increased 31.5 percent last year, defying the government policy to reduce gambling.
According to the Betting and Licensing Control Board (BCLB), the firms increased to 100 from 76 in 2020.