Betting is not so new to the Kenyan market. Betting on sports such as horse racing has gone on for many years.
However, the entry of technology, including mobile phone platforms, has enabled Kenyans to place a bet and pay for it more easily and comfortably.
Mobile betting has also enabled winners to receive their payouts faster. This and other factors have made betting hugely popular among the youth.
Capt Ronald Karauri, the CEO of SportPesa, says betting is ideally meant for entertainment.
It is not a career, or a means to escape poverty. Karauri said this in an exclusive interview with one of the local dailies.
Karauri: For me, it was a transition that had to happen because I had been in business before, even though I had flown for 10 years. I loved flying and I think it was something I was good at. When I was requested by the members of the SportPesa board, I thought it was very important that I get involved.
In business sometimes, if you are not involved, you lose track of the business and you can easily lose control. As we can see today, this was a good choice for me, the right decision.
At the time, people may not have seen the potential of where we would have been today.
How much does SportPesa pay in taxes to the government?
We contribute a significant amount in taxation. We are one of the highest taxed industries in Kenya.
We’ve been in existence for the past five years. In 2014, our first year, we paid approximately Sh19 million; in 2015 Sh800 million; 2016 Sh3 billion; 2017 Sh3.5 billion; and 2018 it was Sh4.6 billion.
Some critics feel you aren’t paying enough tax.
Most people do not understand how our business works, from the common mwananchi to the policymakers.
There are different types of gaming. For example, in a lottery, when you buy a lottery ticket for Sh100, that goes as revenue to the company until they pay out the prizes. With sports betting, when someone places a bet of Sh100, that money does not belong to us because you wait for the results of the game. If the guy wins the bet, you pay it back. It only becomes revenue when one loses the bet.
Sometimes people look at their whole stake and consider that as our revenue, a perception that is completely wrong.
We are the most highly taxed industry in Kenya, so the tax we pay is much higher than what we retain as earnings.