Kenya’s government is cracking down on betting companies in the country, an act that has affected top betting brands like SportPesa and Betway.
The interior ministry has suspended the operations of 27 betting companies including SportPesa saying it has not renewed their licenses.
The ministry has in a letter to telecoms company Safaricom indicated that the companies affected have not met the “outstanding renewal requirements”.
The order was from the Betting Control and Licensing Board, contained in a letter dated July 10.
But Safaricom says is asking for a timeline to ensure that the estimated 12 million clients using it’s platforms have access to funds they deposited in their betting accounts.
Safaricom has also asked the government to grant permission to still keep the short codes to allow people to withdraw the money.
List of companies affected:
The companies affected include top brands like SportPesa, Betin and Betway.
Others are Betpawa, Premierbet, Lucky 2 U, 1XBet, Mozzartbet, Dafabet, World Sport Bet and Atari Gaming.
The rest are Palmsbet and Bet Boss, Betyetu, Elitebet, Bungabet, Cysabet, Nestbet, Easybet, Kick Off, Millionaire Sports Bet, Kenya Sports Bet and Eastleighbet.
SportPesa and Betway have global status and currently sponsor some English Premier League clubs.
Betting and gambling has become very popular across Kenya, a situation the government wants to tackle.
Companies operating betting businesses depend on client using their mobile money accounts to place bets.
Kenyan lawmakers are however working on a new legislation that intends banning the use of a mobile phone to place a bet online.
The bill still under discussion wants to restrict online gaming using the mobile phone.
The bill reads in part that “A person in Kenya may not use a telecommunication platform for purposes of playing online games which include betting, lottery, casino games or any platform for other forms of online gaming.”
Dealing with offenders
The new bill is proposing a fine of up $20,000 (Sh2 million) or a maximum jail term of two years for offenders of the law.
The law according to government officials is meant to curb the rate of gambling or betting in Kenya especially among young people.
Gaming Bill is hoping to also increase the penalty $50,000 (Sh50 million) if the culprit is a company.
Currently in Kenya telecom platforms are used to place bets through the mobile phones with users not requiring bank account.
Sports-betting has become so rampant in Kenya raking in extra cash for patrons.
The locals are however passionate about sports, and this passion is boosted by placing bets on bookies like Betway.
Many African countries are however concerned about the rate at which young people engage in betting or gambling online.
These countries have been devising ways of dealing with the problem but encouraging companies involved to restrict it to adults.