By Joy Kyalo
The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and other state agencies such as police and National Intelligence Service (NIS) have been offered a window to track betting activities real time via a proposed law.
Other agencies, including security teams and the Financial Reporting Centre (FRC), which is mandated to track illicit cash, have been added to the list of institutions that will track the bets as they are placed.
“The Board (Gaming board) shall establish a framework to facilitate real time monitoring of online gaming activities which shall be accessible for monitoring by the Communications Authority of Kenya, the board and any other relevant government agencies,” says the Bill.
The state has backed amendments to the Gaming Bill which creates a platform that will allow more government agencies to capture suspicious bets and punters in the latest drive to combat money laundering and flow of illicit money.
This came about due to increased concerns that betting firms are emerging as a vehicle to launder proceeds of crime and corruption, the so-called dirty money and so are under-declaring their earnings to the KRA and the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB).
This is to facilitate real time monitoring of online gaming activities which shall be accessible for monitoring by the Communications Authority of Kenya, the board and any other relevant government agencies,” says the Bill.
The amendments are an upgrade of earlier changes that only gave the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) real-time access to betting activities.
Gaming in Kenya takes place online, allowing gamblers to place bets on games taking place across the globe.
If Parliament approves changes to the law, gamblers dealing in large transactions, those putting money in betting wallets and staking a small fraction of it as well as those making small, regular and suspicious bets will be in the radar of the State.
Licences of more than 15 betting firms were last year not renewed, especially due to fresh demands for taxes and the need for more shareholder disclosures, leading to court fights with firms like SportPesa and Betin.
Separate, in June this year, SportPesa gaming brand was sold for Sh14.7 million ($100,000) triggering a fight among the founders of the sports betting platform.
Pevans’ chief executive Ronald Karauri signed the deed of assignment on behalf of the firm on June 2 to transfer the brand to UK-based Sportpesa Global Holdings Limited.
He would later emerge with a controlling 54.4 per cent stake in Milestone Games Limited, the company that was subsequently assigned the right to use the SportPesa trademark in Kenya by Sportpesa Global in the roundabout deals.
Kenyan entrepreneurs Paul Wanderi Ndung’u and Asenath Maina, who own a combined 38 per cent stake in Pevans, have accused Ronald Karauri and the foreign investors of locking them out of the firm’s management and strategic decisions since 2017.
“In consideration of the sum of £100,000, the assignor hereby assigns to the assignee absolutely with full title guarantee all its rights, title and interest in and to the trademarks,” the agreement says.