This August, Ghana’s betting scene faced a shake-up with Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, the Majority Leader, throwing his weight behind the controversial new 10% withholding tax on betting and lottery profits. The Suame MP, in an interview on Kumasi’s Angel FM, shared his stark view on betting, “I don’t believe in betting. I don’t believe in luck. I believe in hard work and sweat to get money. Let’s be serious. As for me, I’m against betting coming into the country. I don’t support it because it doesn’t encourage hard work.”
The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) announced that from August 15, 2023, bet and lottery wins will no longer see the former 15% VAT but will face a 10% withholding tax on all gross gaming profits. This move, aligning with Act 1094, the Income Tax Act amendment, was further explained by Edward Gyamerah, Commissioner of the Domestic Tax Revenue Division at the GRA, who cautioned gaming corporations about compliance.
Opposition from Concerned Bettors
The Concerned Bettors of Ghana (CBOG) were quick to voice their dissent. In a public notice, they labelled the decision as “clueless,” . They argued, “We, the above-mentioned association, rejects the announcement by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to the public for the implementation 10% tax on all betting, games, and lottery wins, from Tuesday, 15th August 2023.”
The CBOG statement further read, “CBOG wishes to say that an attempt to go ahead to levy the ordinary Ghanaian, especially the youth in betting, in an already tax-burdened society is a recipe for chaos,” highlighting the perceived unfairness of the tax.
The debate spilt over to Twitter, where users shared diverse opinions. One user highlighted the lack of employment opportunities, saying, “There are no jobs and no one gives money for free, betting is all we can do to survive.” Another user challenged the narrative of betting promoting laziness, asking, “if you think betting promotes laziness then show us what you have done to create job for youths?”
This development has opened a can of worms in Ghana, putting the spotlight on the country’s approach to betting, youth employment, and economic survival strategies. With passionate voices on both sides of the argument, the implementation of this tax could be a game-changer, for better or worse.