, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 16 – The government is set to deport 17 directors of gambling companies as the crackdown on the betting culture in the country intensifies.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi has already signed deportation orders for the officials, mainly from Eastern Europe who are accused of violating their work permits to engage in gambling, a Spokeswoman for the ministry said Tuesday.
“Most East Europeans violated work permits by engaging in business not stated on applications,” Wangui Muchiri said, “The deportation orders are immediate.”
The government has lately intensified a crackdown on gambling in the country, and has even ordered mobile telecommunication companies to shut down short codes operated by betting firms, sparking outrage from the firms which have already filed a challenge in court.
But President Uhuru Kenyatta at the weekend vowed that his government will not relent on the war against gambling in the country, leading to Tuesday’s deportations.
The government accuses most betting firms in the country—including giants Sportpesa and Betin—of failure to pay taxes and violating several other regulations.
Other firms affected include Lucky 2 U, Asian Betting and Gaming Ltd, Kick Off Sports Bar Ltd, Mozzarbet Kenya Ltd, Atari Gaming Ltd, Millionnaire Sports Bet Ltd, Premier Betting Ltd, Advanced Innovation Ltd, Sekunde Technologies among others.
All insist they are being targeted unfairly while claiming that they pay requisite taxes as required by law.
It is estimated that the industry turns around Sh200billion annually.
“SportPesa has been fully compliant with all tax and legal requirements in Kenya. Our business has uniquely and consistently boosted sports development in the country, and we have not minced our support in community investment. This was witnessed by our widespread impact in areas such as football, boxing, rugby and social projects involving water access, environment and skills uplift in the country. These are now at severe risk following the measures taken by BCLB,” reads a section of the statement sent to newsrooms by Sportpesa on July 12.