17 foreign directors of betting firms to be deported


File image of Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Matiang'i
File image of Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i

In Summary

  • Sources have confirmed to Citizen Digital that the said directors are required to leave the country immediately.
  • Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i is understood to have already signed the deportation orders.
  • This comes as the latest move in an ongoing government crackdown on the overly lucrative industry which has come under State radar over claims of tax evasion

The government has issued deportation orders against 17 foreign directors of betting firms among them SportPesa and Betin whose licenses were suspended last week.

Sources have confirmed to Citizen Digital that the said directors are required to leave the country immediately.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i is understood to have already signed the deportation orders.

This comes as the latest move in an ongoing government crackdown on the overly lucrative industry which has come under State radar over claims of tax evasion, with licenses of 27 firms being suspended by the Betting Control and Licensing Board.

On Monday, the Central Bank of Kenya wrote to the CEOs of all local banks and financial institutions asking them to monitor accounts of 27 betting firms and public lotteries whose licenses have been cancelled.

Last week, the government directed mobile money service providers; Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom Kenya to withdraw pay bill numbers and SMS codes of the 27 betting companies among them SportPesa, Betin and Betway.

In a letter to the telcos, Betting Control and Licensing Board Acting Director Liti Wambua, said the licenses of the 27 firms remain withdrawn, hence, their payment platforms should also be suspended.

“We wish to inform you that the licenses for the following betting firms were not renewed until they meet the outstanding renewal requirements as well as outcome of ongoing due diligence to determine if they are fit and proper to hold a license from this board.

“Consequently, we request you to suspend their pay bills and short codes until otherwise advised,” reads the letter  dated July 10, 2019.

The affected firms are said to have failed to prove that they were tax compliant as required by the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB).

This was apparently discovered after a probe by a multi-agency team constituted  to probe the licenses of all betting and gaming companies in the country.

The firms whose licenses have since been canceled include, SportPesa, Betin, Betway, Betpawa, Elitebet, PremierBet, Lucky2u, 1xBet, MozzartBet, Dafabet, World Sports Betting, Atari Gaming, Palms Bet and Betboss.

Others are Kick-Off, Atari, Millionaire Sports Bet, Palmsbet, Chezacash, Betyetu, Bungabet, Cysabet, Saharabet, Easibet, Easleighbet, Sportybet and AGB Lottery & Gaming.

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Story By Benjamin Muriuki
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