Online sports betting companies in Kenya are crying foul after their customers were denied access to place their bets following the suspension of paybill numbers.
This was after Kenya’s Betting Control and Licensing Board ordered the withdrawal of betting codes for 27 gambling companies whose licenses had not been renewed.
“The licenses of operators were not renewed for the period July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020,” stated the Betting Control and Licensing Board. “This is to request you, as the communications sector regulator, to duly withdraw the content service provider licences issued to the firms.”
Those who tried to place their bets, their telco providers notified them, “Failed. Dear customer, for any queries regarding betting transactions. Kindly contact your betting service provider for more information.”
According to Safaricom, the directive stands to affect over 12 million customers.
Responding to the directive, SportPesa maintains that they were tax compliant and that they were working to solve the matter amicably.
“SportPesa is a law-abiding corporate citizen that upholds all tax and regulatory requirements. We remain compliant on all tax payments. We continue to address the licensing matter with industry regulators and stakeholders,” said Jean Kairie, corporate affairs director at SportPesa.
Financial statements of Pevans East Africa Ltd which manages SportPesa shows it earned KSh20 billion in the year ending December 31, 2018 and paid KSh6.3 billion in taxes.
KSh3.6 billion was in betting tax, KSh400 million withholding tax on winnings, KSh1.1 billion in corporation tax and Sh270 million in Pay as You Earn (PAYE).
“The prejudicial process that has been followed by the regulator has the potential to drive the industry underground as well as have far-reaching repercussions on the social and economic agenda of the country,” Sportpesa said in a statement.
Betin Kenya vows to challenge a government directive blocking its pay bill numbers and SMS codes.
Betin Kenya would like to express its disappointment in the recent actions taken by BCLB with the respect to blocking of our payment systems and would like assure all customers that there deposits are safe. pic.twitter.com/LcO6rQWEmR
— Betin (@BetinKenya) July 13, 2019
On the other hand, MozzartBet disclosed that it was not aware of non-compliance concerns saying it had no issues with relevant regulators and that they had no pending issues with BCLB.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Mozzartbet has a valid and current tax compliant certificate,” said marketing director Frank Ochieng.