SportPesa CEO, Ronald Karauri

Former Kakamega Senator, Boni Khalwale has asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to resist being ‘blackmailed’ by betting firms, one of them being SportPesa.

The betting firm on Tuesday with immediate effect withdrew all its local sports sponsorship programmes over 35 per cent tax imposed by the government saying that it cannot ‘continue to sustain the existing sponsorships under the new tax law.’

Justice John Mativo last week ruled that all gaming, betting and lotteries comply to the new tax rules.

A dissatisfied SportPesa issued a notice of appeal against Justice Mativo’s ruling but noted that they will not be withdrawing their operations in Kenya.

Many reckon that the company is only trying to intimidate the government into giving in to their demands.

Khalwale noted that the betting firm ‘rakes in in excess of 15 billion per annum, without as little as selling any goods or services. They must pay tax! We cannot just turn our country into a national casino!’

The firm now wants the government to take up their role after terminating contracts with ‘Football Kenya Federation, (Harambee Stars coach) Paul Put, (assistant coach) Andreas Spiers, Kenya Premier League, Kenya Rugby Union, Gor Mahia, AFC Leopards, Nakuru All Stars, Boxing Federation and the Super 8 grassroots tournament.’

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CEO Ronald Karauri has sought audience with the government noting that ‘the Sports Fund is a good idea, but in no country in the world has a government been able to support sports entirely.’

”I still believe there is hope, and as the chairman of the Association of Gaming Operators in Kenya, I request government to sit down with me so that we can come up with a more amicable solution,” Karauri said.

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