Africa comment: Tax will make fools of us all

Kenya Parliament
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In what for now ends one of the more frustrating will-they-won’t-they scenarios in Africa, the members of the Kenyan parliament have ratified a decision to financially maim its casino market and expect it to keep working.

The powers that be have decided that the best way to support the underperforming sector is to uphold a 35 percent revenue tax and 10 percent player win levy. It is not the largest of cognitive leaps to suggest that shackling an industry won’t be particularly conducive to further progress nor is it radical to assume that doing so will weed out illegal practices in any way shape or form.

Kenya is a huge market for international tourism. It is already popular with Europeans and has seen steady growth from the Asian market, the problem is that the majority of these visitors are attracted by nature-led destinations, often away from population and business centres.

So the question therefore is how do gaming operators access this tourism revenue that may currently be being missed. One option would be to create resort-style properties near natural assets and another would be to upgrade facilities in the city centres but both are non starters under the burden of such absurd taxation.

Operators and players alike will ultimately vote with their feet and if there is no revenue to tax then the rate of it is inconsequential. The Kenyan casino market is currently being heralded as an economic cash cow but no one seems to be paying attention to the fact it is being led to the abattoir.

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