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Betting, gaming firms with unrenewed licenses risk closure

CA Director General Ezra Chiloba. [File, Standard]

Betting, lotteries, and gaming firms who have not renewed their licences for the Financial year 2022-2023 risk being shut down.

The Communications Authority (CA) on Friday, July 1, directed mobile network operators to stop the issuance of ICT platforms and services which include USSDs, shortcodes, and paybill numbers to betting entities who have not renewed their Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) licenses.

CA Director General Ezra Chiloba in a circular said the directive is in line with the relevant license conditions on the provision of the licensed services.

“To ensure that these communications services are used within the remits of regulatory framework, the authority directs operators that the use of licensed ICT platforms and services for provision of betting and gambling services shall only be by firms duly licensed by BCLB.”

Betting firms who wish to carry out betting are also required to obtain authorization from the regulator, BCLB.

Equally, “Mobile operators are required to provide returns to the BCLB and the Authority detailing numbering resources allocated to licensed betting and gambling service providers on a monthly basis,” Chiloba said.

This comes as BCLB shines a spotlight on betting firms to reveal the money they have spent on sponsorship of sports clubs and community projects.

The regulator’s Chief Executive Peter Mbugi in May directed all gaming operators to disclose activities, amounts, and beneficiaries of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) spending.

“The board wishes to inform you to submit report on all CSR activities conducted during the licensing period," he said in a letter dated May 17.

This came amidst murmurs that betting companies had abandoned their CSR activities to local clubs, with speculations that most of them might be channeling the funds into political parties.