Betting firms stare at losses over closure threats

By Mercy Imali

Gamblers have just a couple of hours to withdraw money deposited in sports betting companies’ wallets or lose it all.

A directive issued by the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government to mobile telecommunication companies read,This is to permit you to allow gamers of the subject firms to withdraw any funds they may have deposited in the material period within 48 hours from the date hereof, and duly notify them of the same.” It also ordered telcom firms to deactivate text message short codes used by the betting firms.

The directive dated 11th July, 2019 was signed by Liti Wambua, an acting director at the Interior Ministry. It was copied to Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi and his Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho.

The decision was taken apparently due to betting firms’ failure to observe regulations required for them to obtain new licenses. Betting firms have also been on the Government’s radar for enabling money laundering.

The Ministry has also written to telecommunication companies, including Safaricom, directing them to suspend their pay-bills and short codes “until otherwise advised.” Sportpesa is one of the 27 betting firms affected by the new directive.