Eighteen firms have entered the betting industry despite the re-introduction of the 7.5 per cent tax on betting stakes.
The firms entered the industry between January and June.
The new entrants are Tickbet, Megabet, Mossbets, Kick Off Sports, 10bet, Poabet, Dakabet, Bet Genius and Melbatech.
Others were Level X Bets, Janta Bets, Bet Kumi, Bustbets, Bet Nare, Dimbabet, Galaxy Betting and Fanbet.
The increase came despite a bid to make betting less attractive to gamblers and discourage the youth and jobless Kenyans from sinking deeper into financial woes through defaulted loans.
According to the Industry regulator Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB), 118 firms were licensed to operate at end of last month from 100 in January.
The country’s 7.5 per cent tax on gambling stakes – a reduction from the proposed 20 per cent officially become law, after being signed by President Uhuru Kenyatta on June 29, 2021.
This tax was increased from 10 per cent in 2019 in a move that led to operators Sportpesa and Betin leaving the market, on the back of a different dispute over another 20 per cent tax on stakes.
However, in its amendments to the 2020 Finance Bill, the country’s Finance Committee proposed removing the tax entirely, arguing that by pushing operators out of the market, the tax increase had in fact meant the Treasury collected less tax income.
This change was ultimately approved by Parliament and signed into law by Kenyatta, who had previously expressed strong opposition to the industry. However, the Treasury vowed to reintroduce the tax in the near future.
It eventually did bring the 20 per cent stake tax back with this year’s finance bill, when it was first presented to Parliament in May.
However, the Finance Committee again rejected the tax rate. This time, it proposed lowering the rate to 7.5 per cent, but allowing the tax to apply to lotteries as well, rather than only betting.
The committee had collected evidence on the bill from a number of stakeholders, including Sportpesa, which argued that using turnover as the base for the excise tax was contrary to the excise duty law.
The operator pointed out that the law states that the excisable value of services should be “the fee, commission or charge payable for services, or open market value”.
The Finance Committee said lowering the tax rate would help keep players on licensed sites.