The Kenyan government, after declining to renew the licenses of 27 betting companies operating in the country has now added salt to the wound by ordering Safaricom and Airtel to withdraw mobile money PayBill numbers and shortcodes for the gambling companies.
Among the affected betting companies are Sportpesa, Betin and Betway.
The Betting Control and Licensing Board Acting Director Liti Wambua has now written a letter to the telecommunication companies informing them that their licenses remain withdrawn and that they should suspend their payment portals with immediate effect.
“We wish to inform you that the licenses for the following betting firms were not renewed until they meet the outstanding renewal requirements as well as outcome of ongoing due diligence to determine if they are fit and proper to hold a license from this board.
“Consequently, we request you to suspend their pay bills and short codes until otherwise advised,” reads the letter dated July 10, 2019.
Early in May, the government had laid down tough rules to govern the gambling industry in Kenya and protect the consumer from being misled and exploited. In his earlier letter, Wambua noted “We wish to remind you that gaming is a demerit good and all demerit goods have the potential to harm the consumer with the possibility of leading to addiction as well as some disorder. This Board, therefore, as a regulator of the industry, has a duty to protect its customer, members of the public, the young and vulnerable.”
The entire issue emanates from the failure of the betting firms that to prove that they are tax compliant, some of which, such as SportPesa required to pay Billions in tax arrears in order to fulfill this requirement.
A report from the multi-agency team indicated that the companies made a cumulative amount of Ksh.204 billion last year but paid only Ksh.4 billion in taxes.
Here’s a fair list of the firms whose licenses have been suspended:
- Lucky 2 U
- 1X Bet
- Dafa bet
- World Sport Bet
- Atari Gaming
- Kick Off
- Millionaire Sports Bet
- Kenya Sports Bet
The government is contemplating deporting bosses affiliated with the affected betting firms.
What do you think about this move?