Kenya’s government has made good on its threat to deport foreigners found to be working illegally for local gambling operations.
On Tuesday, Kenya’s Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i signed deportation orders for 17 foreign nationals deemed to be in the country illegally. The Star quoted Interior Ministry insiders saying most of the deported individuals worked in the casino and betting sectors.
The deported individuals reportedly were either in the country following the expiration of their work permits, engaged in local business without the necessary documentation or had evaded local taxes.
The deportation orders came just one day after Matiang’i issued a warning that he aimed to “clean up the [gambling] sector” by expelling any foreigner found to be working in the local industry if their original work permit cited a different business sector.
The 17 individuals deported were reportedly Chinese, Turkish and Spanish nationals. Standard Media reported that there were 109 foreign nationals holding executive positions in the local gambling sector. Italy led the list of these nations with 15 execs, followed by China (13) and Bulgaria (12), while the Czech Republic, Serbia and South Korea accounted for six names apiece.
Kenya’s government has taken a more aggressive stance towards its gaming sector in recent weeks, particularly its international licensees. Matiang’i complained Monday that foreign nationals held 90% of the executive positions at Kenyan-licensed gaming operators but the profits derived from gaming were repatriated to these execs’ home countries, while Kenya was left to deal with the negative impacts of gambling on society.
Kenya’s government claims that is owed Ksh26b (US$257m) in unpaid taxes from gambling operators, and the government previously threatened to suspend the license of any operator as of July 1 if they’re found to be delinquent in their tax obligations.
The government recently revealed that more than half of this alleged tax obligation is owed by the market’s leading betting operator SportPesa. The company claims it couldn’t remit the stipulated 20% tax on gamblers’ winnings due to ongoing court challenges of the winnings tax, which sets up a major game of ‘chicken’ ahead of that July 1 tax compliance deadline.