Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Matiang’i has suspended operating licenses for all the over 20 registered betting companies in the country effective July 1 over alleged non-compliance to tax regulations.
Speaking on Monday after a meeting with the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) Matiang’i revealed that the betting industry in Kenya generated at least Ksh.202 billion in revenue last year alone but only remitted Ksh.4 billion in taxes.
The Interior CS said renewal of the licenses would be subject to proof of tax compliance.
“Effective July 1, 2019, all betting licenses in the country stand suspended unless the holders have paid all their taxes,” said Matiang’i.
According to the CS, statistics show that Kenya is leading in the continent as far as betting goes with about 76% of the youth actively involved in one form of gambling or another.
He further revealed that 54% of those who are actively involved in betting are all from the low-income earning bracket.
“Right now, we have about 500,000 of our young people who have been blacklisted by some of the lending agencies because they borrowed and cannot pay,” he stated.
The Interior boss also instructed BCLB to convene a meeting with the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) and review betting advertisements, further proposing that media houses should also be held to account for the gambling commercials they run/air.
He further directed the board to provide him with a comprehensive status report on the betting situation in the country, complete with a notation profiling the agencies involved, within 30 days.
“I have instructed Immigration PS and Director General to be involved to ensure that anyone who is involved in this exercise, especially those who are not citizens of our country, are properly documented and they have the right papers to be in our country,” he stated.
“Where they are not, the law should take its course immediately and we should call them to account. We cannot run a sector where we are supporting indirectly money laundering in some kind of disguised way where it looks like they’re doing the right thing.”
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