Kenyan Betting Firms Face Closure As Gov’t Orders Withdrawal of Paybill Numbers

By  |  July 11, 2019

Kenyan betting companies risk losing huge amount of revenue after the Government ordered telecom firms, Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom to stop processing payments for the betting firms days after their licenses were cancelled.

In a directive issued by Betting Control and Licensing Board Director, Liti Wambua, the telcos have been ordered to withdraw pay bill numbers and SMS codes of 27 betting companies among them SportPesa, Betin and Betway.

“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 shortcodes until otherwise advised,” reads the letter  dated July 10, 2019,” he said.

The crackdown on the firms was heightened in May by the introduction of new gambling regulations, including banning advertising outdoors and on social media.

Findings from a multi-agency team which was tasked to probe the licences of all betting firms in the country found that these firms made a cumulative amount of Ksh.204 billion last year but paid only Ksh.4 billion in taxes

The report further adds that most of these firms are founded on weak existing laws which make it easy for manipulation as money laundering avenues.

Mobile money transactions have always been a key feature for online betting, approximately 12 million people have wallets for the betting companies, which have an unspecified amount of money.

In response to this directive, Safaricom, through its lawyers said that it required more time to carry out the order since sudden implementation would result in shutting millions of users out of funds already deposited in the gaming wallets of the various betting firms.

In a previous interview with Reuters, Safaricom executives said that the betting industry, through text messages and M-Pesa, has become a significant part of its revenue in recent years.

Other firms affected include Betpawa, Elitebet, PremierBet, Lucky2u, 1xBet, MozzartBet, Dafabet, World Sports Betting, Atari Gaming, Palms Bet and Betboss.

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