MPs set up special committee to probe betting industry


A dealer lays out cards in the gaming room at Casino Malindi. The MPs will be probing claims of tax evasion, tax avoidance and money laundering in some betting, gaming and casino businesses. PHOTO | FILE

The National Assembly will set up a special committee to inquire into the activities of the multi-billion shilling betting and gambling industry in Kenya.

The committee, to be co-chaired by Majority Leader Aden Duale and Deputy Minority Leader Jakoyo Midiwo, is expected to focus its inquiry on tax compliance, claims of financial impropriety, regulation and benefits of the industry to society and the State.

The team, which has 14 days to report its findings to the House, will also investigate claims of tax evasion, tax avoidance and money laundering in some betting, gaming and casino businesses.

The motion seeking to establish the Select Committee was sponsored by the Opposition coaltion Cord.

MPs proposed to sit on the committee are Kanini Kega (Kieni), Thomas Mwadegu (Wundanyi), Soipan Tuya (Narok women representative) and Samuel Gichigi (Kipipiri).

Others are Samuel Chepkong’a (Ainabkoi), Dorcas Kedogo (Vihiga women representative), Daniel Maanzo (Makueni), Benjamin Langat (Anamoi) and Mary Keraa (Kisii women representative).

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Mr Midiwo, while giving notice of the motion, noted that the betting and gambling industry in Kenya had attracted a lot of public interest in the recent past leading to exponential growth.

He said the services of betting companies like Sportspesa, Elibet, Betway, BetIn Kenya and mCheza, among many others, are now easily available via online and mobile platforms despite the industry facing a number of challenges including insufficient regulatory and institutional frameworks.

Mr Midiwo, who is the Gem MP, argued that the government has a role in strengthening the licensing and collection of tax revenue from the industry while ensuring its sustainability.

In several developed jurisdictions, he said, betting and gaming activities are regulated in the same manner as insurance, banking and other financial services with regards to disclosure of information, conflict of interest, enforcement of age limits of participants, audit, reporting, licensing and taxation.

He sought to clarify that the Select Committee will not be encroaching on the functions of the 47 county governments which are mandated by the Constitution to regulate betting and gambling activities.

“Although the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution has devolved the functions of betting and gambling to the 47 county governments, Articles 95(2), 189(2) and 191(1) and (2) of the Constitution allow the national government, through Parliament, to resolve issues of concern to the people and pass law to ensure uniformity of action across the country,” Mr Midiwo said.

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