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BY NAMULONGO PETER,NAIROBI,14TH JULY 2019-SportPesa has assured its customers a cross the country that talks were ongoing to ensure that normal operations resumes.The company which is one out 27 betting companies affected by the directive from the interior ministry to have their operations stopped said on Sunday that it is in discussion with the Ministry of Interior and Kenya Revenue Authority to resume its services, which have been off since Friday evening.
“We remain hopeful that an amicable solution will be arrived at soon to allow us to resume services” its CEO Ronald Karauri said in a notice published in the dailies.Karauri said the company is, “Committed to dialogue with all relevant stakeholders with the aim of developing a mutually beneficial solution that will complement the government’s development agenda”.President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday said the government will not revoke its decision that ordered mobile companies to shut down the paybills and short codes for 27 betting firms until their licenses are renewed.
President Kenyatta said the firms should stop threats that they will move to court and instead pay taxes, which are beneficial to the country.The Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) has also not renewed the 2019/2020 licences for the 27 betting firms for failing to meet requirements including taxation compliance.A report by multi-agency team set by the Government indicated that betting companies made about Sh204 billion last year, yet paid Sh4 billion only in taxes.However, SportPesa insists that it has been fully compliant with all tax and legal requirements in Kenya.The suspension of the betting firms paybill numbers and SMS shortcodes is the direst of government’s resolve to clamp down on the multibillion industry.
In May this year, the High Court quashed a directive by BCLB to ban outdoor advertising for gambling.
The board also sought to make it a requirement that all outdoor advertising be presented to it for review before it is approved for publishing.All adverts were also supposed to contain warning messages about the consequences of addiction to gambling.
A tough talking Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i on Friday directed regional and county police commanders to shut down and arrest operators of unlicensed gambling businesses.“Anybody operating should show regional and county commanders a license from the board. If not, they are engaging in crime,” said Matiang’i.