The licensing battle between betting giant SportPesa and the betting industry regulator has shifted to the jackpot.
This is after the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) remained on the case of the firm after it disclosed that the company had not been licensed to offer jackpot services in Kenya.
This is despite the fact that SportPesa has been running its Jackpot and Mega Jackpot gaming services, where interested members of the public have been participating.
By Monday, the company on its website continued to advertise Sh11,517,993 as being up for grabs in its Jackpot for this week, while in the Mega Jackpot section the amount was Sh102,487,245.
Through a statement to the public published in local dailies, BCLB urged Kenyans not to be duped to participate in jackpots offered by unlicensed operators in the betting and gaming industry, as it listed companies that have been authorised to offer the services, leaving out SportPesa.
The regulator stated that only nine companies have been authorised to run jackpots. The companies listed are Infinite worldwide, Croissance Ltd, Supabet Ltd, White Rhino, Albertyne Ltd, Zumandu Ltd, Kareco Holdings Ltd, Bet Mbao Ltd and Shop and Deliver.
“To run a jackpot an operator must seek authorisation from the board, provide proof of a fixed cash deposit equivalent to the jackpot being offered- this is to act as a security of the jackpot, and provide a schedule of draws to ensure officials from the Betting Control and Licensing authenticate both the drawing process and the winners,” BCLB stated in the statement.
The communication means SportPesa had not gone through the processes and was therefore running unsecured jackpot and mega jackpot services.
The regulator has in the recent past cracked down on the sector and has been sealing several loopholes that firms used.
The State agency also said there was an increasing number of inquiries from gaming enthusiasts who sought answers on issues relating to “betting jackpots being offered by various gaming operators.”
“Gaming enthusiasts are therefore advised against participating in any jackpot that is not authorised and secured,” said the BCLB board.
The regulation of betting and gaming sector has been tightened since last year after various unethical and illegal practices were unmasked, a move that led many operators of those services who had inculcated the culture of using underhand methods instead of following the law, hurting as they are now required to follow strict procedures.
The new procedures include applicants who want licenses to run gaming and betting services being vetted by the National Intelligence Service (NIS) and other law enforcement institutions like the Financial Reporting Centre (FRC) and the anti-fraud unit at the Central Bank.
“One thing that everyone can rest assured is this: we are not going to allow money launderers and criminals on international watch lists to come around here under the guise of betting and gambling, to destroy the economy of this country,” Interior CS Fred Matiang’i, who has been leading the crackdown on the industry said early this month.
The crackdown started when it emerged that some players in the sector were not paying their fair share of taxes even as they shipped billions of shillings in profits abroad.
In the last two weeks, the interior CS has intensified his crackdown on the sector after he signed fresh deportation orders for 14 foreigners for allegedly being involved in illegal gambling in Kenya.
They were mainly from Eastern Europe. The foreigners were arrested on in three different offices in Nairobi in a crackdown by immigration and police.
This action has prompted SportPesa directors to seek an anticipatory bail to prevent the government from arresting the remaining top staff, in what the firm has called intimidation.