Razak Kojo Opoku Responds to Cassiel Ato Forson Over Tax on Sports Betting

God created everything that exists through WORDS and NUMBERS. Every knowledge acquired is through WORDS and NUMBERS.

Our everyday transactions, trading and communications are based on WORDS and NUMBERS. Lotteries and sports betting deal with NUMBERS aspect of creation aimed at generating revenue for national development, and for human empowerment financially.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with lotteries and sports betting.

It is quite surprising that Cassiel Ato-Forson, a former Deputy Minister of Finance, is hopping mad at Akufo-Addo’s government for not banning betting but has rather imposed taxes on sports betting.

For the avoidance of doubt, sports betting is regulated by the Gaming Commission of Ghana under Act 721 whereas lottery is regulated by National Lottery Authority (NLA) under 722.

There are a lot of foreign companies operating sports betting without payment of taxes to the State as required by law.

Apart from the required license fees these foreign sports betting companies paid to the Gaming Commission of Ghana, they contribute very insignificantly to the revenue mobilization efforts of the government.

These foreign sports betting companies repatriate their profits back to their respective countries causing capital flight which in turn affect the strength and performance of our local currency, the cedi.

Operations of lottery under Act 722 are restricted to only Ghanaian owned or partly owned companies. However, the operation of sports betting under Act 721 predominantly targets foreign companies.

Therefore, the introduction of the tax by Akufo-Addo’s government on sports betting is rather targeting foreign companies in order to reduce the capital flight associated with the sports betting industry.

Sports betting (with responsible gaming as the benchmark) aimed at raising revenue for the collective benefits of government and its citizens can never be described as morally reprehensible.

Lotteries and sports betting are all Games of Chance regulated by different Acts enacted by the Parliament of Ghana. If it is morally reprehensible then why did the Parliament of Ghana of which Ato Forson is part of enacted Act 721 and Act 722 to regulate sports betting and lotteries respectively?

Come to think of it, Ato Forson as then Deputy of Minister of Finance was having every opportunity to take steps to wholly repeal the National Lotto Act 722 since the Ministry of Finance is the oversight ministry of the National Lottery Authority.

For the purpose of clarity and setting the records straight, during John Mahama’s administration with Ato Forson as the Deputy Minister of Finance imposed 5% withholding tax, the highest ever on lotto wins following a re-classification of the lotto as an investment activity.

Again John Mahama’s administration with Ato Forson as the Deputy Minister of Finance imposed 7.5% tax, the highest ever on the 20% commission paid to the indigenous Ghanaian Lotto Marketing Companies.

It took Akufo-Addo’s government to abolish the 5% withholding tax on lotto wins and 7.5% tax on the commission paid to the Lotto Marketing Companies. These taxes, 5% and 7.5% were abolished in the 2018 ‘Adwuma’ Budget.

It is therefore highly unacceptable and morally reprehensible for Ato Forson, who was part of the very government that imposed 5% and 7.5% taxes on lottery, to criticize Akufo-Addo’s government for taxing sports betting.

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