Gamblers were unable to load funds into their betting wallets marking the biggest move by industry regulator Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) to enforce compliance by the firms.
BCLB had through a letter dated July 10 ordered Safaricom and Airtel to suspend the paybill numbers because the betting firms have not renewed their operating licences for the year starting July 1.
“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).
Safaricom said that it had suspended 955100- paybill number for SportPesa, the leading player in Kenya’s betting market. Betin’s 997270 was also suspended.
A spot check by the Kenyan Business Feed team showed that Airtel had not suspended its Paybill number used by Betway, another gaming company.
As at 12 p.m this afternoon, Betway was sending the following messages to its clients.
“Use Airtel Money to make deposits into your Betway account. Enter 880185 as the paybill number and place your bets in no time, said Betway to its clients
“Failed, dear customer this paybill is unavailable due to the government directive to suspend Betting Paybill numbers, Kindly contact your Betting Company,” read the M-Pesa responses to customers making deposits to their SportPesa accounts.
“Dear customers, for any queries regarding betting transactions, kindly contact your betting service provider for more information, Betin,” read M-Pesa responses to attempts to make payments to Gamcod Limited which operates at Betin.
This morning, gamblers with money in their e-wallets were given 48 hours to withdraw or lose it.
Betting is a Kshs. 200 billion-a-year industry that has attracted international firms like Betway into the country. However, Pevans Limited that trades as Sportpesa is the dominant player, followed by Betin Kenya.