Sportpesa Sues Government After Massive Betting Losses

Sportpesa CEO Ronald Karauri at a past event. FILE PHOTO | COURTSEY

Giant Betting firm Sportspes has now sued the state seeking compensation for the days it has been out of business after the government ordered Safaricom to stop processing payments for sports betting companies.

The firm argues that the suspension has caused the company massive losses and as well want the court to quash a notice issued by BCLB to Safaricom that disabled their SMS shortcodes and M-Pesa pay bill numbers.

Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i.PHOTO/COURTESY

The betting firm and its rival Betin Kenya say the July 12 switch-off of its M-Pesa pay bills and SMS shortcodes are illegal because they both have court orders allowing them to continue operating despite being denied licences by the State.

Both firms want the suspension of their payment systems lifted and the chairman and top executives of Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) jailed or fined for ordering the switch-off despite the court order.

“Honourable court be pleased to award the petitioner damages for the lost business and breach of fundamental rights,” SportPesa petitioned the court.

The firm said it was denied a licence because of tax demands for the period between May 2014 and March 2019, arguing that the court had stopped the demands and allowed it to continue operating pending the conclusion of the suit.

The High Court had also suspended the decision by BCLB to withdraw Betin Kenya’s licence, prompting the betting firm to push for the punishment of the regulator for disobeying the judges.

On Tuesday, High Court judge Weldon Korir declined the betting firms’ plea for bosses at BCLB punished for contempt of court.

Instead, he ordered that the betting board together with mobile communication operators Safaricom and Airtel to be allowed time to respond to the case before any punishment is arrived at.

“The order to unfreeze paybill numbers will amount to determining the contempt application without giving a hearing to the betting board; I will therefore not issue any of the orders sought, it’s only just that BCLB, Safaricom and Airtel are given time to respond,” said

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