Home Tech Telcos ordered by GoK to suspend 27 betting firms’ pay bill numbers

Telcos ordered by GoK to suspend 27 betting firms’ pay bill numbers

by Feritter Owich
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Safaricom, Airtel, and Telkom Kenya have been directed by the Kenyan Government to withdraw pay bill numbers and SMS codes of 27 betting companies among them SportPesa, Betin, and 1XBet.

This directive comes just after six months of push-and-pull between the government and betting firms. On Wednesday, the government struck at the heart of the firms’ operations, ordering telcos to shut down the paybill numbers and shortcodes of the 27 companies whose licenses are yet to be renewed after suspension.

The order by the Betting Control and Licensing Board, contained in a letter dated July 10 was signed by its acting Director Liti Wambua. The letter effectively seeks to shut down a multi-billion-shilling industry that has been on a roll.

“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 the 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,” the letter dated July 10 reads in part.

The affected companies are as listed below

  • 1. SportPesa
  • 2. Betin
  • 3. Betway
  • 4. Betpawa
  • 5. Elitebet
  • 6 PremierBet
  • 7. Lucky2u
  • 8. 1xBet
  • 9. MozzartBet
  • 10. Dafabet
  • 11. World Sports Betting
  • 12. Atari Gaming
  • 13. Palms Bet
  • 14. Betboss
  • 15. Kick-Off
  • 16. Millionaire Sports Bet
  • 17 Cheza Cash
  • 18 Betyetu
  • 19. Bungabet
  • 20. Cysabet
  • 21. Saharabet
  • 22. Easibet
  • 23.Easleighbet
  • 24. Sportybet
  • 25. AGB lottery and gaming
  • 26. Atari
  • 27. Kickoff

A report by a multi-agency team tasked to probe the betting firms revealed that the companies had failed to prove that they are tax compliant as required by law. Indicated in the report was that despite the companies making Kes. 204 billion from the business last year, they only remitted Kes.4 billion in taxes.

This comes after Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i had vowed to revoke all licenses for betting firms until they passed a vetting exercise that included them providing a tax compliance certificate.

Sadly enough, all of these companies rely on mobile money services to allow people to stake their bets. And the government cutting this major source of revenue for them will most probably jolt them to comply with the requirements asked of them.

To place bets, gamblers load money into virtual wallets run by mobile money companies. Winners collect their winnings through the same wallets unless the amount won is too big that the payment has to be made through a cheque.

As reported by The Daily Nation, the effect of the order would affect at least 12 million people who have wallets for the betting companies and lock up an unspecified amount of money held in those wallets.

Let’s wait and see if all the 27 companies will prove that they are sufficiently liquid, and have performed well, financially, in the last four years as expected of them by the Kenyan government.

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