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Federations to increase lobbying over 35pc tax on betting firms

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KRU boss Richard Omwela showing letter from SportPesa.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 2- Federations, teams and sports entities who are beneficiaries of sponsorship from betting and gambling firms will increase lobbying to sway the government to re-think on the 35percent tax legislation assented to by President Uhuru Kenyatta in June.

This renewed vigor to have the hefty tax legislation re-looked is fuelled by a new study conducted by Trends and Insights for Africa (TIFA) research that showed 60 percent of Kenyans do not support the new Law.

“If this Law goes on to be implemented in January it will mean that the companies will reduce their investment in sports. At the end of the day this will lead to cut in jobs because sports is a huge creator of employment and especially courtesy of the money put in by betting firms,” Kenyan Premier League Chief Executive Officer Jack Oguda told Capital Sports.

According to the research which majored on seven counties and responses picked from 822 sports fans, most who object the implementation of the Law support Oguda’s argument that it will increase unemployment.

“Most feel that the Law will cripple sports in the country because of the kind of support they give to teams and federations. As a result, they also feel that will create unemployment because of job cuts,” TIFA director Maggie Ireri explained as she released the findings on Wednesday morning.

“For us it’s a big challenge but what we are working on is to try and value the product properly to get more partners on board,” – KPL CEO Jack Oguda

Twenty two percent of those interviewed support the implementation of the legislation with most of them basing their reasons on morality.

“They want this Law to be implemented fully because they believe it will reduce gambling and protect the public from exploitation. They also feel that the Law will reduce the sprouting of more betting and gambling firms,” Ireri further explained.

A huge chunk of the 22 percent who want the legislation implemented are above 45 years. At the same time, 18 percent of the remaining populace is non committal on their stance.

Among the sports federations and associations present during the release of the results include the Kenya Rugby Union, Kenya Golf Union, the Kenyan Premier League and Extreme Sports whose Super Eight tournament is solely supported by SportPesa.

“Betting firms have stepped up to fill in the void of supporting sports because to be honest the government has neglected sports in this country. It is time as federations and sports companies which rely on betting to stand up and lobby for a change,” Bernadette Kagechu, the Extreme Sports Business Development Manager noted.

SportPesa, who are one of the biggest investors of sports in the country, say they will ‘re-look their expenditure’ in January when the Law comes into force.

AFC Leopards chairman Dan Mule (left), SportPesa CEO Ronald Karuri (center) and Gor Mahia chairman Ambrose Rachier during the meeting when the title sponsor reinstated the partenership.PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Chief Global Marketing manager Joyce Kibe however, hopes they will be listened to in order to retain their investment in Kenyan sports. She has allayed any fears that the company will consider closing shop in Kenya.

“We are doing everything possible to engage the government and once January 2018 comes, then we can make a decision to look at all our expenses,” Kibe said.

Earlier, SportPesa boss Ronald Karauri had hinted the company might withdraw their sponsorship in sports due to the legislation.

The betting form sponsors the Football Kenya Federation, Kenyan Premier League, Kenya Rugby Union, the Boxing Association of Kenya, the Extreme Sports Super Eight League as well as Gor Mahia, AFC Leopards, Nakuru All Stars and Kenya Harlequins Rugby Club.

Among other clubs in the country sponsored by betting firms include Ulinzi Stars (Elitebet), Mathare United (Betway) and Sofapaka (Betika).

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