The Regulatory power of taxes - taxing to control betting in Kenya
Muchangi, Ianchris Wachira
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The activity of sports betting in Kenya has been on a steady rise despite efforts by the government to tame its prevalence. Ever since the first online sp01is betting company started business in Kenya, there has been an increase both in the number of people taking part in the activity and the number of companies operating in Kenya as bookmakers. The government has put in several policy directives and legislative measures in efforts to curb the dangerous rise in the number of citizens taking part in the activity. Key among them is the imposition of a surtax on the bookmakers' proceeds at the rate of 35% of their gross gaming revenue. This led to an uproar from the stakeholders mainly the bookmakers since they are set to lose a huge amount of their income through this surtax. The government on the other hand has turned a deaf ear to their pleas of revision of the 35% tax rate. Betting taxes have been used in various jurisdictions around the world to achieve regulation objectives. Kenya's problem is not unique. This research draws inspiration from jurisdictions that have levied taxes on betting as a means of bringing the sector under regulation. This is done by way of case studies. Legal theories that justify imposition of taxes in general also inform and guide this research. By drawing lessons from two contrasting jurisdictions, this paper makes a case for the retention of betting tax at 35% on the gross gaming revenue.