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Gaming firms hit hard in 2017/18 budget

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The National Treasury has allocated Sh1.9 billion to Sports, Arts and Culture.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 30 – The National Sports, Culture and Arts Fund will heavily benefit from the 2017/2018 financial year after the National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich raised taxes for betting, lotteries and gaming with proceeds going to the newly created sports fund.

In his budget statement to Parliament on Thursday, Rotich said the increment of taxes was necessitated by numerous gaming companies, noting that it has negative social effects on the youths.

“Betting and gaming have become widespread in our society in an environment that is inadequately regulated. Its expansion is beginning to have negative social effects particularly on the youths and vulnerable member of our society. I therefore propose to raise taxes for betting, lotteries, gaming and competition from the current rates of 7.5, 5, 12 and 15 per cent respectively to a uniform tax of 50 per cent for all categories,” Rotich announced.

“All the proceeds of these will be put in a newly created National Sports, Culture and Arts fund to support development of Sports, Cultures and Arts in Kenya,” he added.

Sports Commissioner Gordon Oluoch was pleased with the announcement saying it will be a good place to start off the government lottery.

“That will be of a a good help because the funds will get the lottery started then thereafter it will be self sustaining. The funds will go a long way to developing Sports in our country,” Oluoch told Capital Sport.

The announcement was welcomed by Members of Parliament, a month after the Betting Control and Licensing Board rejected tax proposals contained in a draft bill meant to regulate the growing gambling industry.

Known as the Betting, Lotteries and Gaming (Amendment) Bill, 2016, the draft law proposed by Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo had suggested higher taxes and tougher regulations for players in what he said is to improve on a negligent regime that has allowed betting companies to evade taxes.

Last month, the game operators and sports federation heads appeared before the National Assembly Labour and Social Welfare Committee to submit the objection to the Betting, Lotteries and Gaming (Amendment) Bill.

Cherangany MP and 2012 Boston Marathon Champion Wesley Korir called on Association of Gaming Operators – Kenya, Ronald Karauri to follow United Kingdom example where around three-quarters of UK Sport’s funds come from the lottery.

Korir noted that more than 4,500 athletes including Tom Daley, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Mo Farah are beneficiaries from the lottery.

“We can use it to develop Olympians in swimming, boxing, athletics, cycling and football, I think if you can purpose it for that it will be the best thing,” Korir said.

Sports Federation in the country are against the Bill saying it will have negative impact to development of various sporting disciplines in the country.

Kenyan Premier League Head of Logistics Frank Okoth and Kenya Rugby Union Secretary General Geoffrey Gangla claim various sports discipline have experienced rapid growth due to the partnership which touches on the very core of the games development and sustainability.

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