SportPesa issues statement on govt directive on paybills

Friday July 12 2019

SportPesa Chief Executive Officer Captain Ronald Karauri poses for a photo during an interview at the firm's office in Nairobi on August 19, 2016. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Giant gaming firm SportPesa has responded to the government's directive that all gamblers have 48 hours to withdraw their money from betting companies or lose it.

The government, which is carrying out a radical shutdown of the Sh200-billion-a-year industry, had told the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) Thursday to grant the firms a 48-hour window before shutting their paybills.

But in a statement on Friday, the firm said it was disappointed by the "recent malicious actions" by the BCLB.

"This is the latest in a series of abrupt measures from BCLB that only serve to discourage and disrupt business.

"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," said SportPesa in a statement.

"SportPesa has been fully complaint 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. 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."


The company said it would challenge the measures and moved to assure its customers of a swift resolution to the impasse.

This response comes a day after BCLB had written to the gaming firms affected by the crackdown to allow its customers to withdraw their money wothin 48 hours.

“This is to permit you to allow gamers of the subject firms to withdraw any funds they may have deposited in the material period within 48 hours from the date hereof and duly notify them of the same, quoting this letter as authority,” wrote Mr Liti Wambua, the board’s acting director, in a letter dated July 11, 2019.

Safaricom had asked the board to allow gamblers time to withdraw their money from their mobile wallets before complying with the directive.

The firm says the directive will affect over 12 million customers, and that blocking them would expose the company to legal action.

It is not clear how much the paybill accounts hold in gamers’ deposits.