betPawa fights to stop suspension of its betting operations


betPawa fights to stop suspension of its betting operations
Silhouette of a person betting on a desktop computer. PHOTO | COURTESY

In Summary

  • betPawa is among betting firms whose licenses were recently cancelled by the government for allegedly failing to renew operational permits.
  • In court papers filed on Monday, betPawa wants to be allowed to continue utilizing its pay bill numbers and short codes without any interference by BCLB pending hearing and determination of the case.

Nanovas International (K) Limited trading as betPawa has now moved to court seeking to temporarily suspend a decision that cancelled its operational license.

betPawa is among betting firms whose licenses were recently cancelled by the government for allegedly failing to renew operational permits.

In court papers filed on Monday, betPawa wants to be allowed to continue utilizing its pay bill numbers and short codes without any interference by the Betting Control and Licenses Board (BCLB) pending hearing and determination of the case.

“Pending the hearing and determination of the petition, the court to issue order temporarily suspending the board letter dated July 10, 2019 addressed to Safaricom Limited,” reads court papers.

The case has been certified as urgent and hearing set for Wednesday July 17, 2019.

The betting company claims the action by BCLB was carried out without any prior notification, involvement or their participation as they stood to be directly and adversely affected by it.

The firm further argued that it stands to suffer monumental losses and exposure as a result of the government’s “unlawful” actions, adding that it does not only affect them but also its employees, stakeholders and members of the general public.

betPawa, in an affidavit by Cynthia Onyango, stated that by a letter dated July 10, 2019, BCLB wrote to Safaricom Limited requesting for the suspension of the pay bill numbers and short codes for several companies.

Ms. Onyango further argued that, prior to the action, the Board wrote to betPawa on July 1, 2019 and rejected its application for the renewal of its bookmaker’s license, ostensibly on the basis that there were pending investigations into the petitioner’s regulatory and license compliance.

“In spite of the petitioner lodging its application for renewal of the license and responding to the respondent’s inquiries for further information in sufficient time before its expiry on June 30, 2019, the respondent awaited its expiry before communicating the rejection of the petitioner’s application,” said Ms. Onyango.

She stated that the respondent’s rejection of the petitioner’s application for renewal of its bookmaker’s off-the-course license was neither efficient nor expeditious, contrary to Article 47 (1) of the Constitution.

The government on Wednesday last week directed mobile money service providers; Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom Kenya to withdraw pay bill numbers and SMS codes of 27 betting companies.

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

This was after a report from a multi-agency team indicated that the companies made a cumulative amount of Ksh.204 billion last year but paid only Ksh.4 billion in taxes.

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 Dzuya Walter
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