Category Archives: Gambling

Bankers Predict the World Cup – 2018 Edition

The 2018 World Cup is now in its semi-final stage. Let’s look at how some banks made their picks to win the tournament.

Who was Predicted to Win the 2018 World Cup?

  • Germany:  Was picked by UBS (Germany has a 24% chance of winning football’s ultimate prize, followed closely by Brazil and Spain, who respectively have a 19.8% and 16.1% chance).
  • Brazil: Picked by Goldman Sachs (Brazil to defeat Germany).
  • France/Spain: Picked by Nomura (France and Spain to meet in the final).
  • Spain: Picked by ING.

Here is a good write-up of the Goldman Sachs picks and a summary of some of the different bank forecasts.

The teams in the semi-final today are England, Croatia, France, and Belgium. With both of its initial finalist picks now out of the competition, Goldman Sachs has revised its model and …With Brazil now out of the world cup, Belgium is at the top of our probability table with a 32.6% chance of lifting the trophy, closely followed by France (29.8%). Similarly, our model’s modal projection is for Belgium to defeat France and England en route to winning the tournament….

Look back at the 2006 World Cup banker predictions.

Pambazuka Lottery suspends Kenya business over tax

Today, the Pambazuka National Lottery (PNL) followed partner Sportpesa in suspending its operation in Kenya following a new 35% tax that came into force on January 1, 2018.

PNL, which is operated by Bradley Limited, interpretation of the tax change is that, whereas they had been paying out 55% out as prizes and 25% as a tax to charities, the new 35% tax makes operations impossible as their tax costs will be 115% before deducting any operating costs.

PNL was established in 2016, and the suspension announced on January 7 will allow any winners of prizes to claim them up to April 7, 2018.  The Pambazuka statement reads that “operating any lottery under this framework is not possible and therefore business operations are forced to close” but, as with Sportpesa, who had become arguably the leading betting company in Kenya, but who cancelled all local sports sponsorships last week, there is no mention of what the numbers actually are i.e revenue and taxes (in dollars or shillings), to compare how they were faring before the tax, to how unsustainable business will be under the new tax.

EDIT PNL’s directors say they had invested over two billion shillings (~$19.5 million) and employed over 500 people. 

Sports Betting – Part IV: Gambling Companies Protest Kenya tax

Today brought some shocking news that, following the passage into law of the 2017 Kenya Finance Bill, in which the President had amended an increase in the tax on gambling to 35% tax, in place of an earlier 50% one proposed at Parliament, Sportpesa, the apparent industry leader of sports betting and gambling would be ending all its local sponsorships.

Sportpesa has a sizeable local sports sponsorship portfolio, supporting several local sports ventures; In rugby (the Kenya Rugby Union, Kenya Harlequins), and in soccer (Kenya’s premier league, a Super 8 tournament, Football Kenya company, as well as individual teams of Gor Mahia, AFC Leopards, Football Kenya, Nakuru All Stars).

Sportpesa started operating in Tanzania just two months ago, but recently hosted a soccer tournament in Tanzania featuring top Kenyan and Tanzania teams, which was won by Gor Mahia, earning them a pre-season match with Everton, the English premier league team, on July 13 in Dar-es-Salaam.

The strong-arm tactics of Sportpesa look similar to ones tried by Kenyan banks before the President went ahead and signed an interest capping bill into law that the banks had strongly opposed. The effects they warned about now seem to becoming true with reduced lending to businesses, and liquidity in the economy.

The sports betting and gambling companies push back also comes at a time when Kenyan sports face myriad issues like doping allegations, an ineffectual sports minister and fatigue and funding cutbacks by other large sports sponsors including Multichoice (DStv), EABL, KCB and Safaricom over management issues with different sports associations and teams. While gambling companies like Sportpesa had stepped up, the sports’ funding sources now appear in limbo.

Investor Motivated Terrorism

There have been two recent attacks which have looked like they were motivated by terrorists, but which now appear to have been linked to investors with issues or seeking gains

There was the deadly attack in Manila, Philippines on a casino and shopping complex that’s now attributed to a heavily indebted Filipino (a, former finance department employee who owed more than $80,000, and had sold off some property) who was hooked on gambling (his family had even asked casinos in the capital to ban him) …authorities released security footage showing Carlos casually exiting a taxi just after midnight and walking calmly into a vast entertainment and gambling complex like any other visitor. Shortly afterward, he dons a black ski mask, slips on an ammunition vest and pulls an M4 carbine assault rifle out of his backpack…at least 37 patrons and employees died, mostly from smoke inhalation as they tried to hide

But more shocking was the bus attack back in April on the team bus of a German soccer team.

  • In what seems like a plot from a James Bond movie, police arrested a man on suspicion he attacked the bus of German soccer team Borussia Dortmund GmbH last week as part of a scheme to profit from a slump in the club’s share price.
  • The man stayed in the same hotel as the soccer team, with a room overlooking the site of the attack. He bought put options online via the IP address of the hotel, the prosecutor’s office said. The options grant their owner the right to sell shares at a fixed price in the future. The man had taken out a loan to finance the transaction, according to the statement.
  • On the day of the April 11 attack in the team’s home city, he bought 15,000 options on Borussia Dortmund shares, betting they would drop sharply after the attack. (On the day of the attack, 15,000 equity-covered put options were traded at 18 cents a piece at 11:16 a.m. in Frankfurt, about 8 hours before the bombs went off. The options, issued by DZ Bank AG and due to expire on June 16, give the right to sell Borussia Dortmund shares at 5.20 euros. The shares closed at 5.61 euros that afternoon, shortly before the attack took place, and fell as low as 5.50 euros the next day. The stock hasn’t traded below 5.20 euros since February. DZ Bank declined to comment. The suspect bought three types of derivatives, with the suspicious trades leading authorities to the man)
  • The man later placed three bombs in a hedge on the road that the team bus was due to take to the stadium, prosecutors said. The explosives contained metal pins, which after the explosion were found as far as 250 meters (275 yards) away. One pin was found in a head-rest of one the bus seats, the authorities said.
  • “A massive share drop would have had to be expected, had a player been gravely injured or even killed as the result of the attack,” the prosecutor’s office said. Police are still calculating what the maximum profit could have been had the plot gone as planned, she said.
  • Borussia Dortmund said in a statement that it hopes all details of the plot will be cleared up in order to help the team, one of the few to be publicly traded, cope with the trauma caused by the incident.

Here in Kenya, we don’t have many mass attacks linked to such, but there are numerous stories of people who have taken their lives after gambling losses.

Kenya Tax Changes in 2017

Tax changes that become effective on January 1, 2017, as a result of the finance bill signed  by the president on 13 September 2016

  • PAYE brackets have been expanded by 10% and the relief also increased by 10%. (now Kshs 15,360)
  • VAT on service charge has been removed, provided that the service charge does not exceed 10% of the price of the service
  • A taxpayer can apply for a refund of overpaid tax within a period of 5 years from the date which the tax was paid. Any amount not refunded within 2 years will accrue interest rate of 1% per month.
  • Withholding tax on winnings from betting and gaming has now been abolished and replaced by a betting tax of 7.5% on the gaming revenue,  lottery tax at 5% on the lottery turnover, a gaming tax at 12% on gaming revenue and a prize competition tax at 15% on the cost of entry to a competition

Extracts from a report by the Grant Thornton Kenya team.