Kenyan’s trying to deposit cash into their SportPesa accounts are currently receiving a failed error message from Safaricom informing them, that the two Pay Bill numbers are unvailable following the government’s directive. The move comes days after the cabinet secretary of internal security Matiangi issued new orders compelling all gambling firms to reapply for their licenses, which was to be issued only after compliance with the tax man.
Recently, several betting companies in Kenya including SportPesa and Betin have been embroiled in court orders with the Kenya Revenue Authority on the exact amount the tax man is supposed to receive from the firms.
The Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) had ordered Safaricom to suspend M-Pesa pay bills and SMS short codes for 27 betting firms including owing to the authority’s refusal to renew their operating licenses. The regulator had indicated that a total of 27 firms were yet to meet licensing conditions and were being vetted to establish if they are fit to hold gambling permits.
On its part, SportPesa through its senior content editor Ms Lola Okulo had reaffirmed that the firm is law-abiding and had paid and met all tax and regulatory requirements. She also added the betting firm was continuing to address the matter with industry regulators and stakeholders. Ms Okulo further pointed out that an order from the High Court of Kenya allowed the firm to continue with its operations uninterrupted.
SportPesa Paybill numbers 955100 and 955700 are unavailable;
Mpesa users depositing money in their SportPesa accounts are getting a failed message from Safaricom as quoted below;
“Failed. Dear Customer, this Paybill is unavailable due to the Government directive to suspend Betting Paybill numbers. Kindly contact your Betting Company,” read a response from Safaricom.
Withdrawals from the blocked betting firms seems to be working so far and we also understand that Safaricom had sort clarification from the betting and licensing board through its lawyers to place a public notice and delay suspending withdrawals so that Kenyans could withdraw funds from the affected companies.
Kenyan’s often find it easier to deposit cash into their betting accounts through mobile platforms technologies such as Mpesa and Airtel Money since transactions are completed right on their mobile devices. It’ll be very difficult for a common Kenyan to deposit money without mobile wallets since alternative methods are ambiguous, inaccessible and often unreliable.
Below is the official statement from SportPesa;
SportPesa is extremely disappointed by the recent malicious actions by Betting Control & Licensing Board (BCLB) to block our payments systems despite the existence of a court order. 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.
SportPesa 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. 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. We wish to assure our customers and stakeholders that we are challenging these actions and remain in contact with key stakeholders with the aim of resolving this matter very soon.