Kenya’s giant betting firm SportPesa has rubbished media reports that the company was planning to stop operations in Kenya because of a new law imposing heavy taxes on Gambling firms signed by President Uhuru Kenyatta two weeks ago.
SportPesa said that statement made by Global Chief Executive Officer Gerasim Nikolov at a press briefing on Friday was taken out of context. “Our CEO was simply trying to demonstrate that no business can survive such heavy taxation on revenue and not profit,” the firm said in a brief statement on its Twitter page on Sunday.
“SportPesa was the first and remains the best gaming brand in Kenya and SportPesa will be the last gaming brand to ever close in Kenya for whatever reason,” it added.
SportPesa Global CEO Gerasim Nikolov in a statement on Friday suggested that the giant firm was considering closing business in the country to explore alternative markets in Tanzania and in the United Kingdom over frustrations by increase in tax on their revenue to 35 per cent.
“There is nowhere in the world where such a huge tax is levied on turnovers and even here in Kenya, no firm can survive today if a 35 per cent tax was put on its turnover.
"Unfortunately, the ultimate effect of us shifting operations from here will be wide, considering the various business that depend on this industry,” said Nikolov at a media briefing Friday.
President Kenyatta, two weeks ago assented to the Finance Bill into law, imposing a uniform 35 per cent tax on betting, gaming, lotteries and prize competitions firms down from7.5 per cent in the past.
SportPesa Kenya CEO Ronald Karauri castigated the new tax bracket, but assured that the firm will not be discouraged to stop operating in Kenya.
“You cannot run a business just to pay tax to the government. It is not worth the sweat and were we not present in the UK and Tanzania, we would just wind up. I don’t think the government will benefit either because this is a death sentence to the whole industry,” said Karauri, who also chairs the Association of gaming Operators (AGOK).