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Kenyan Youth Flood Ugandan Betting Shops After Sportpesa Closure

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Sportpesa CEO Ronald Karauri (PHOTO COURTESY)

Betting shops in Uganda have witnessed a boom in business since Sportpesa and Betin quit the Kenyan market almost two weeks ago.

Kenyan youth, living near the Uganda border have exported their betting across the border where they are guaranteed value for money.

These youths, mostly around the Busia and Malava border prefer doing their business in Museveni’s country because their winnings are not affected by the controversial 20% withholding tax.

“In Uganda, the issue of 20 per cent withholding tax is not there, so you get your money. You stake and you get the expected earnings,” One of the youths told a local daily.

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This is how it happens. Most of the youths have acquired Ugandan sim cards. When they cross the border, they exchange their money into Ugandan currency and deposit at a mobile money agent. then it is systems go.

“We place our live bets, win our money, do shopping for our families and come back to Kenya,” the youth said.

Commodities in Uganda are relatively cheap compared to Kenya and the youths say they also do shopping for their families with part of their winnings before coming back to Kenya like someone from abroad.

The revelation is a new headache for the government, especially coming just weeks after Interior CS Fred Matiang’i said that the government was winning the war on gambling.

Sportpesa cited a hostile business environment when they announced that they were quitting the Kenyan market in September.

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The firm said compounded by the currently in-effect 20 per cent withholding tax on winnings, the economic incentive to place bets will be completely removed as the taxes will deprive consumers of their total winnings.

“The tax is based on a fundamental misunderstanding by the (former Treasury CS Henry) Rotich led treasury of how revenue generation works in the bookmaker industry. This decision will have a damaging impact on both customers and treasury,” reads part of a statement sent to newsrooms.

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