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March 18, 2018

Panel to probe betting industry in wake of tax evasion, laundering fears

SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri presents a Sh22 million dummy cheque to Ezekiel Besa and his wife in Nairobi on January 6 / SHIMRON SAKWA
SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri presents a Sh22 million dummy cheque to Ezekiel Besa and his wife in Nairobi on January 6 / SHIMRON SAKWA

A parliamentary committee has been set up to investigate betting and gambling companies.

The 11-member panel will be chaired by National Assembly deputy minority leader Jakoyo Midiwo. Majority leader Aden Duale is the vice chairperson.

Midiwo yesterday said, “I am deeply concerned because regulation of the industry is weak and insufficient.” There have been claims of tax evasion and money laundering in some betting, gaming and casino businesses.

Some of the most popular betting companies include SportPesa, Elibet, Betway, Betin Kenya, Betway and mCheza.

Some people have questioned how SportPesa is able to sponsor a club in the English Premier League – Hull City. The company defended the sponsorship, sayin it is part of its global expansion programme.

In a statement published on Monday, CEO Ronald Karauri said the sponsorship will run for three years.

Midiwo said the betting industry should be regulated to ensure there is no conflict of interest between players and owners, enforcement of age limits for participants, auditing, reporting, licensing and taxation.

The committee will identify best practices in the management of proceeds from betting and give recommendations in 14 days. Committee members include MPs Kanini Kega (Kieni), Thomas Mwadeghu (Wundanyi), Soipan Tuya (Narok woman representative), Samuel Gichigi (Kipipiri), Samuel Chepkonga (Ainabkoi), Dorcas Kedogo (Vihiga woman representative), Daniel Maanzo (Makueni), Benjamin Langat (Ainamoi) and Mary Keraa (Kisii woman representative).

Last week, some MPs said the betting craze has hurt education standards as many students start gambling at a young age. Duale consequently called for regulation of the industry. Legislators supported the proposal, saying taxes from the industry will grow the economy.

In May, Kenya Film Classification Board boss Ezekiel Mutua raised concerns over increased betting and gambling. He said a law banning betting and gambling advertisements during watershed broadcasting hours will come into force.

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