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Gor, Leopards oppose new tax on betting firms

Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards have opposed the government’s move to reintroduce a 20% percent excise tax on gambling.

In a joint statement on Thursday, the clubs’ respective chairman Ambrose Rachier and Dan Shikanda argued the additional tax could affect the relationship between and football entities.

Gor and Leopards, Kenya’s biggest football teams, are sponsored by gaming firm BetSafe to the tune of Sh100 million a year.

While reading the 2021/2022 budget, Treasury CS Ukur Yattani reintroduced this tax that was scrapped by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2020.

“Excise duty on betting at 20% of the amount will be wagered,” said Yattani, meaning the amount would be levied and passed on to a fan who has won on a bet.

But Rachier and Shikanda say the return of this tax could also drive out current league sponsors, namely BetKing among other betting firms, that have consistently supported the game.

They cited this reason as the cause of SportPesa leaving the Kenyan market in 2018 and explained that betting has cumulatively supported football to a tune of Sh1.6 billion between 2016-2020 and, thus, shouldn’t be ‘punished’ through punitive taxes.

The duo said the betting firms have continued to support both top tier league and the National Super League even amidst the coronavirus pandemic which has denied the two clubs with a massive fan base, revenue as matches are played behind closed doors and in strict adherence to Covid-19 protocols.

“The enactment of the 20% excise tax will unequivocally rule out continued sponsorship of football clubs across all tiers (National Super League, Division 1 and County Leagues), with the net effect of rendering the operations of most of the league teams unsustainable,” it added.

“The tax proposal is ill-timed and makes a strong appeal to the government and members of parliament to make special considerations on this exigent matter and give the sports fraternity a fighting chance during these difficult times,” it added.

Leopards and Gor are currently ranked third and fifth respectively on the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Premier League standings at the halfway stage of the season.