DILEMMA

State mum as betting firms seek answers on differed licenses

Efforts to get a comment from Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) hit a snug

In Summary

• Among the conditions that betting and gaming firms had to meet before having their licences renewed is to be tax-compliant.

• The betting firm registered as Pevans East Africa Limited also shared its tax compliance certificate dated December 1 , 2018.

Interior CS Fred Matiang'i said no betting company will be allowed to operate from July 1 without proving it is tax compliant.
Interior CS Fred Matiang'i said no betting company will be allowed to operate from July 1 without proving it is tax compliant.
Image: JACK OWUOR

The government has remained tight lipped on why it failed to renew licenses for 27 betting firms, days after affected firms claimed to have complied to set regulations.

Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) said it has differed renewal of licenses for 13 casinos, six lotteries and eight betting firms.

Efforts to get a comment from Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) hit a snug, with the agency’s acting managing director Liti Wambua only promising to respond later.

‘’I cannot give you information on phone, please send me your email address,’’ Wambua said. No response had been received by the time of going to press.

We had sought to know which of the set regulations the 27 betting and gaming firms failed to meet or procedure used to determine whose licence to renew or deffer.

On April 1, Cabinet Secretary Interior and Coordination of National Government Fred Matiang’i vowed to introduce tough measures to regulate betting sector, which he accused of leading youths astray.

He gave all firms three months up to July 1 to seek fresh renewal of licenses upon proving tax compliance.

Among the conditions that betting and gaming firms had to meet before having their licences renewed is to be tax-compliant.

They were also expected to prove that they had been operating within the law, and prove that they are sufficiently liquid and have performed financially well for the past four years.

On Monday, SportPesa, one of 27 firms and leading sports betting firm in the country wondered why its license was differed despite complying to government’s regulations including tax remittance.

In full a page advert in leading papers in the country, the company said it collected Sh20 billion in revenues, made Sh9 billion in gross profit and paid Sh6.4 billion in taxes in 2018.

The betting firm registered as Pevans East Africa Limited also shared its tax compliance certificate dated December 1 , 2018.

It refuted claims that it was making Sh100 billion in revenues per year as indicated by the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government.

A report by a multi-agency team set by the state indicated that betting companies made about Sh204 billion last year but paid only Sh4 billion in taxes.

Economist David Ndii early this week took to twitter to poke holes in the government’s figures on betting revere, saying they do not add up.

‘’These betting revenues do not add up. According to Finaccess 2019 survey, only 1.9 per cent of Kenyans bet (about Sh0.5 million). A revenue of Sh100b works out to Sh0.2 million per customer. Either the youth are rich, the revenue is wrong, or is from other sources,’’ Ndii said.

Apart from SportPesa, the state failed to renew licenses Betin, Betway, Betpawa, Premierbet, Lucky 2 U, 1X Bet, Mozzartbet, Dafa bet, World Sport Bet, Atari Gaming, Palmsbet and Betboss.

Others are Betyetu, Elitebet, Bungabet, Cysabet, Nestbet, Easybet, Kick Off, Millionaire Sports Bet, Kenya Sports Bet and Eastleighbet.