SportPesa, Betin PayBill numbers blocked by Government days to AFCON finals

By Waweru Titus: Friday, July 12th 2019 at 15:50 GMT +3 | Sports
[Courtesy]

The Government has blocked SportPesa and Betin payment systems.

In a statement seen by Game Yetu, SportPesa expressed its disappointment in action taken by the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB).

“SportPesa is extremely disappointed by the recent malicious actions by Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) to block our payments systems despite the existence of a court order,” SportPesa said.

The firm pointed out that it has been fully compliant with all tax and legal requirements in Kenya.

“Our business has uniquely and consistently boosted sports development in the country and we have not minced our support in community investment.”

The statement continued: “This as witnessed by our widespread impact in areas such as football, boxing, rugby and social projects involving water access, environment and skills uplift in the country. These are now at severe risk following the measures taken by BCLB.”

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SportPesa, however, said that it will challenge the ban in court.

In an exclusive response to Game Yetu, Betin on its part said it had met all tax obligations as required by the law.

“The Government has failed to clarify any specifics on why we are not compliant. Since we began operations we have paid all taxes owed under the betting and gaming act,” said Betin.

On Wednesday the Ministry of Interior suspended licenses of 27 betting firms from operating in Kenya saying they had not met outstanding renewal requirements and therefore their licences had not been renewed.

In a statement sent to newsrooms on Wednesday, the BCLB also directed all mobile money transfer service providers Safaricom, Telkom and Airtel to suspend the PayBill numbers and short codes allocated to the affected companies.

New data shows that the betting and gambling industry has over the past five years grown to be the biggest advertiser in the country.

According to a new report by Reelforge - a media research firm - and TIFA Research, the industry has edged out the telecommunications sector and the fast-moving consumer goods manufacturers as the leading advertisers.

Betting firms last year accounted for 22 per cent of the Sh95 billion that media houses earned in advertising revenues, a far cry from 0.3 per cent in 2014.

The financial services sector came in second, accounting for 14 per cent, followed by food processing firms (nine per cent), the communications industry (eight per cent) and beverages (eight per cent).

The report showed that half of the top 10 advertisers in the country all come from the betting industry. The key players are Shabiki, SportPesa, Tatua, Lotto and Supa 5.

The move comes days before the African Cup of Nation (AFCON) finals in Cairo, Egypt.

Semi-final AFCON fixtures:

Nigeria Vs Algeria – Sunday July 14, 2019

Senegal Vs Tunisia – Sunday July 14, 2019

Winners meet on Friday July 19, 2019

Losers will play in the third-place game on 17 July, 2019

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