27 betting firms in Kenya have suffered yet another setback after a court refused to issue conservatory orders against their suspension.
The betting firms had moved to court to seek orders to compel the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) to restore their operations until the case against them was heard.
Justice Weldon Korir declined to issue conservatory orders stating that he “did not see a need.”
The government declined to renew operational licenses and permits for 27 betting firms accusing them of having been in operation without following the set guidelines.
On Tuesday, the Cabinet Secretary for Interior Dr Fred Matiang’i signed deportation papers for 17 directors from 17 betting firms and required them to leave the country immediately.
The Betting Sector
Kenya is the third-largest betting market after South Africa and Nigeria but the highest in the amount staked per individual.
The betting industry in Kenya is estimated to be worth 200 billion shillings and is projected to hit 500 billion shillings by the year 2050.
The betting firms, however, have disputed claims that they made 200 billion shillings in 2018 but only used 4 billion shillings to pay taxes.
SportPesa, the largest gaming company in the country release statements indicating it had paid 6.4 billion shillings in taxes, having made 20 billion shillings in revenues.
Betting and the Youth
The government claims that shutting down the betting companies is the only way to protect the Kenyan youth who it claims are addicted to betting.
According to the Ministry of Interior, 76 percent of Kenyan youth are active in betting with the majority of them taking it as a way of making a living.
The government says 500,000 young people who owe lenders 200 shillings and below have been listed at the CRB for failing to pay back loans they took to bet.
The claim, however, doesn’t make sense because it cannot be proved that the blacklisted young people took the loans from mobile platforms to bet.
If the Betting Firms Go
Even if those against betting don’t want to agree, deep within they know that the government economy will feel the pinch of the betting firms leaving.
The first sector to feel the hit will be the sporting sector. Betting firms such as SportPesa have been playing a major role in sponsoring and promoting sporting activities in the country.
SportPesa, for instance, has been a sponsor to AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia and the teams have already registered concerns of their future with the sponsors leaving.
The telecommunications sector will also feel the heat. Those placing stakes on betting platforms have been using Paybill numbers run and managed by telecommunications companies. The numbers have now been suspended.
Gamers will have no choice but to feel the pinch. What many people don’t know is that thousands of people have actually been making a living from betting.
WATCH: Kenya’s Betting Industry.