Betting firm sues gaming control board over refusal to renew permit

Gamblers at a betting shop in Nairobi's CBD. [Courtesy]
A betting firm has gone to court to challenge the Government's refusal to renew its licence.

Nanovas International (betPawa) is protesting the Betting Control and Licensing Board’s failure to renew its bookmaker’s and public gaming permits for the 2019/2020 period.

Through lawyer Emmanuel Wetang’ula, betPawa filed an application under a certificate of urgency at the High Court in Nairobi seeking orders to be allowed to continue operations without interference.

“Pending the hearing and determination of this application, the court be pleased to issue a conservatory order temporarily suspending the board’s letter dated July 10, 2019 addressed to Safaricom Limited and allowing us to continue to utilise its paybill numbers and short codes without any interference,” said Mr Wetang’ula.

In an affidavit filed by Cynthia Onyango, betPawa claims the betting board wrote to Safaricom Limited requesting for the suspension of paybill numbers and short codes for several companies, including betPawa.

Ms Onyango said that the board’s action was carried out without any prior notification, involvement or their participation and that betPawa stands to be directly and adversely affected by the decision.

The gaming company said the board wrote to them on July 1 rejecting its application for the renewal of a bookmaker’s licence, ostensibly on the basis that there were pending investigations into its regulatory and licensing compliance.

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“In spite of our lodging an application for renewal of the licence and responding to the board’s inquiries for further information in sufficient time before its expiry on June 30, 2019, the board awaited its expiry before communicating the rejection of our application," said Onyango.

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Faith KaranjabetPawaBetting Control and Licensing BoardSafaricom Limited