I AM HAPPY that the government has stepped in to vigorously regulate gambling. Let us not kid ourselves: betting is for fools! Only a fool can think that they can beat the house.
Think about it: a normal dice has six faces labelled with numbers from 1 to 6. The dice is then shaken and cast on the table. A bettor attempts to predict which face will come on top.
You put up some money before the dice is cast and if the prediction is correct, the waged amount is doubled. Only a fool would imagine that if they participate enough times they can gain more than they are putting in.
If you participate long enough, you will pick the wrong number five out of every six tries. If you were placing, say Sh50 each time, you will pay out Sh300 to make the six predictions and walk away with Sh100 on the single instance that you get it right.
Only a fool would think that paying Sh300 to get Sh100 is a profitable proposition!
Now betting started out as a way of encouraging people to participate in fundraising activities meant to finance socially beneficial projects. Communities would organise a fundraiser (harambee) and offer a special gift to one participant selected at random.
This then evolved into fundraising raffles where tickets are sold and one (or a few) ticket is (are) selected at random and the holder given a large sum of money — say, five times the value of the ticket. The rest of the money is retained for the social project, perhaps building a classroom at the local school.
This is the philosophy behind many national lotteries around the world — to raise funds from the public for a social cause. Unfortunately, the love of money took over and many private gambling enterprises whose sole aim is to make profits for the owners have been allowed to operate.
To be clear: gambling operations add nothing to society! Yes, they continuously shout about the sponsorships that they do and the winnings that they pay out. But when you look at what they take and compare to what they give back, the result is always a very large negative number.
If it was up to me; I would completely ban all gambling operations! But that is not what I am proposing. I think gambling should be taken back to its original purpose — fundraising for a good cause.
Thus, I propose that we charge 75 per cent excise tax on all gambling revenue. Also, all winnings should attract 15 per cent withholding tax — just like interest income from savings.
Of course, the bookmaker will pay the normal 30 per cent corporation tax on the profits made from these operations.
In addition to that, bookmakers should publish the following data after each draw: number of people who participated, total amount waged, number of winners, and total amount won.
This way, the public will understand how slim the chances of winning are and make informed decisions when betting.
www.figures.co.ke; Twitter: @MungaiKihanya