Taxing winnings will aid illicit gambling

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani read his budget speech for the next fiscal year in Parliament last Thursday but of course these days we never expect anything to smile about and we are only scared of cabinet secretary’s pronouncements.

The country is already overtaxed; the wheat is over threshed! We only look forward to gloom and misery, and we deserve it. This year’s budget was obviously going to hurt us most, and indeed we were not wrong in trusting our collective gut feeling. Avenues for further tax collection are almost vanishing but the government has the ability even to squeeze water from a dry and compact rock! The next stop for the government was to tax the gamblers in the same crazy way it did some time back before shelving the idea.

We are not supporters of gambling and we are aware that one cannot feed and clothe himself by depending solely on gambling proceeds. We also very much aware that most of our football clubs in the country depend upon the betting firms to sponsor their activities.

The 20 per cent tax levied upon the winnings is not a move towards getting more revenue for the country; it is a move that seeks only to kill legalised gambling. It is not a financial move but a moral one that can put a smile on the face of a religious zealot.

In Kenya, football as a sport cannot grow without hurdles being placed on its path. Deliberate steeplechases calculated to kill the spirit. The corporate world is full of men too comfortable to think about sports. There are very few companies willing to sponsor clubs, and the sponsorship from the television rights was killed by the same Football Kenya Federation that introduced the 18-team league and abolished the 16-team league that was in the contract with the defunct Kenyan Premier League Limited.

This meant loss of revenue for the clubs and a lot of happiness we suppose; for FKF’s diabolical leadership.
From the year 2016 to date, local football clubs have had to depend solely upon sponsorship from the gambling sector. That has been the mainstay of these clubs and the tax has been instituted to solely cut off that leeway to life for them.

“Excise duty on betting shall be 20 percent of the amount wagered or staked,” says the Finance Bill 2021.

If enacted into law, the Kenya Revenue Authority will take Sh20 out of every Sh100 wagered, regardless of whether the punter wins or loses. There’s no more business in that angle and the firms shall cut down their funding for the football clubs and that will be a wise move financially for them.

Times are already too hard on our football and the addition of salt to the bruises by the government is a clear message to all Kenyans that sports don’t matter at all. It is not even a part of the Big Four agenda.
The ball is now squarely on Parliament’s court, and we shudder to think they may not even see the point.
We still urge them to at least think this time round and change this annoying thing.


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