INTERNATIONAL – Kenya has ordered telecoms firm Safaricom to stop processing payments for sports betting companies, potentially shutting down a lucrative source of revenue for the company.
Online sports betting companies such as SportPesa have grown rapidly in the East African nation in recent years, riding a wave of enthusiasm for sports to achieve combined revenue of 204 billion shillings ($2 billion) last year.
However, that has sparked concern in the government about the social impact of betting. In May, the country introduced new gambling regulations, including banning advertising outdoors and on social media.
The gaming companies rely on Safaricom’s market leading network to take bets, communicate with users and process payments on the company’s popular M-Pesa mobile cash platform.
Each betting firm is assigned a unique number, known as a pay-bill, which is used to process payments from users who place bets on their mobile phones and to pay off those who win.