Economy

SportPesa, Betin fight for paybills

BET

Kenya’s mobile-based sports betting industry has in the recent past recorded phenomenal growth. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Firms want the High Court to compel the government to lift the suspension of their pay bill numbers.

Three gaming companies Monday put up a spirited fight as they asked the High Court to compel the government to lift the suspension of their pay bill numbers.

Arguing before Justice John Mativo, the companies including SportPesa, Betin and 1xBet said the suspension of their paybill numbers and short codes halted their businesses, despite meeting all the requirements.

Through senior counsel Paul Muite, SportPesa, trading as Pevan East Africa, said Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB), ordered Safaricom and Airtel to suspend their paybills and short codes despite obtaining a court order.

He said the board acted arbitrarily, causing injustice to the company and threatening hundreds of jobs.

“Any action done in violation of a court order is a nullity. The letter (to Safaricom and Airtel) is a complete nullity because it was made in defiance of a court order,” he said.

Prof Githu Muigai for Gamcode Ltd, also known as Betin, said BCLB cannot be allowed to act “in a manner that it deems fit and in contravention of the law”.

On its part, Advanced Gaming through Mbugua Ng’ang’a said it has invested heavily and if not lifted, the suspension of the paybills will lead to closure of its business.

The board said by ordering a status quo, the court effectively took over its mandate and “renewed the licences of the three companies.”