President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday morning (August 24) suggested he would not mind the gambling sector being shut completely in Kenya.
Speaking at the 60th anniversary celebrations of CITAM Church in Karen, President Kenyatta said he further wishes that “tougher laws” can be introduced to regulate the betting sector in Kenya.
The president even went ahead to ask MPs, who were present in the church, including Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja and Woman Rep, Esther Passaris, to "introduce and ensure that the tougher laws are passed in Parliament".
“So long as they are operating within Kenya, and are guided by the laws of the land, they should give Caesar what belongs to Caesar. You [MPs present in church] should help me do it, I cannot rein in on them alone; [the law doesn't allow],” said President Kenyatta, who was the chief guest at the celebrations, also attended by Deputy President William Ruto.
The president’s remarks come just one month after he vowed that the Government won’t backtrack on the reforms it is undertaking in the gambling industry.
On July 13, the Head of State said the taxes betting firms are required to pay are for development and the betterment of the country’s economy.
Uhuru further stated that he won’t revoke the Government's decision to deactivate the Paybill numbers and short codes for the suspended 27 betting companies in Kenya.
“The firms should stop threats that they will move to court. The government must get its share to fund activities that are beneficial to this country," said President Kenyatta.
The Head of State’s tough talk comes on the back of allegations by KRA that the suspended 27 betting firms in Kenya owe the State more than Ksh60 billion in withholding tax arrears.
The licenses of the 27 companies, including giants Sportpesa, Betin and Betway, who enjoy close to 85 per cent of the betting market, were not renewed by July 1 over claims of tax non-compliance.
SportPesa has since suspended all its sponsorships of Kenyan sports teams and activities, citing shrunk revenues due to a “hostile business environment”.