Matiang'i betting
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i during a past press briefing.

The battle between betting firms in Kenya and the Kenya Revenue Authority is heating up as the latter continuously accuses the former of evading tax.

Gambling is a craze in the country with an observable percentage of Kenyan youth engaging in the supposed vice on a daily basis.

Heavy taxation of gambling companies was initially for the purpose of curbing the craze as betting companies profit most from this craze and the KRA hopes to get some of the cheese to help boost the country’s economy.

The most recent happenings in this battle was on Tuesday May 21 when Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i deported 17 foreigners who are in the country illegally. Interior Ministry insiders said most of those to be kicked out were in betting and casino businesses. They are of different nationalities, ranging from Chinese, Spaniards, Turks, Serbian, South Koreans, Bulgarians, Italians and Danes.

This came a day after the CS had warned those illegally conducting gambling businesses in the country. The CS said, “My firm instruction is that anyone who applied for a different permit and ended in gambling business, I am ready to sign their deportation papers today.”

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Dr Matiang’i said this even as the government recently ordered that all betting firms apply for operating licences afresh starting July 1. The move is seen as a ploy to net gambling firms that have been evading taxes despite reaping billions of shillings in profits.

Billions owed to KRA

On Monday, the Interior Ministry CS said that betting firms owe the KRA Sh26 billion in unpaid taxes. The CS also accused the betting firms of using the court process to frustrate the taxman and other regulatory agencies.

Matiang’i vowed to do everything in his power to reduce the gambling craze in the country. A move, he says, that is for the good of those youth addicted to gambling.

The CS also claimed that betting companies are making loads of money from Kenyans without paying taxes which can be used for development.

Apart from KRA, Betting firms are also battling with the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB).

BCLB had put a directive to ban betting advertisements on mass media from 6 am to 10 pm.

The High Court however suspended the directive after a Gospel singer went to court saying the ban infringed on his livelihood as a celebrity.

Interestingly, Dr Matiang’i had also accused the betting firms of using the court process to frustrate the taxman and other regulatory agencies.

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