Telecommunication company Safaricom has deactivated Sportpesa paybill number after a directive from the government.

A writer attempted to send money through the 955100 Paybill number on for him to get a reply indicating it was impossible.

The message from Safaricom read: “Failed. Dear Customer, this Paybill is unavailable due to the Government directive to suspend Betting Paybill numbers. Kindly contact your Betting Company.”

In a case before the court, Sportpesa had argued that funds held by Safaricom belong to individual players who placed bets through SportPesa and they do not belong to and are not held by Safaricom on behalf of SportPesa.

Message from Safaricom after attempting to send money to Sportpesa account
Message from Safaricom after attempting to send money to Sportpesa account

Government directive

On Wednesday the government directed mobile money service providers to withdraw pay bill numbers and SMS codes of 27 betting companies among them SportPesa, Betin and Betway.

Betting Control and Licensing Board Acting Director Liti Wambua, said the licenses of the 27 firms remain withdrawn, hence, their payment platforms should also be suspended.

BCLB gave gamblers 48 hours to withdraw all their money from their gaming wallets before shutting their paybills.

Tax wars

Sportpesa Paybill Number
Sportpesa Paybill Number

Safaricom had allowed gamblers time to withdraw their money from their mobile wallets before complying with the directive.

SportPesa and Betin had argued that it would be impossible for mobile companies to shut down their paybills and shortcodes since they have pending cases in court between them and the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) on taxes.

The betting company had sued KRA over a Ksh3 billion tax demand, saying the taxman had not carried out an assessment before issuing the demand.