Winners of a past Kenya Charity Sweepstakes Lotto Jackpot celebrate their win. The firm is also known for funding social causes such as rehabilitation of street children. [Standard]

A UK betting firm has acquired a controlling stake in Kenya Charity Sweepstake (KCS) as it eyes expansion into the Kenyan and regional markets.

Corporate advisory firm I&M Burbidge Capital, which tracks private equity deals, said TenlotGroup had taken up an 85 per cent stake in the local firm.

“Tenlot Group Ltd of the UK, a unit of the Elenilto Group Ltd, acquired an 85 per cent in Kenya Charity Sweepstake Ltd, a Nairobi-based provider of gambling services,” I&M Burbidge said.

Tenlot, which runs its sales through government agencies within the countries it operates in aims to triple its annual sales in the next two years, targeting entry into the Ugandan, Mexican, Mozambican and Tanzanian markets.

The firm also hopes to expand its services to include the sale of scratch cards, sports betting and other casino games. Tenlot Chief Executive Yossi Abadi said the firm would ride on KCS’ national gaming infrastructure and the country’s advancement in the use of mobile money.

A majority of Kenyans have always thought KCS, which was established in 1966 with the aim of helping to alleviate poverty and to provide financial support to social causes, is government-owned.

This is considering that it has been used to channel money to thousands of schools as well as healthcare programmes such as the Beyond Zero campaign that aims to help reduce child mortality and the spread of infectious diseases. It has also been used to fund projects dedicated to the rehabilitation of tens of thousands of street children.

A Mr Des Bowen is, however, listed as KCS’ owner and director. In April 2007, former Kilome MP John Mutiso put the then Vice President and Home Affairs Minister Moody Awori to task about the ownership of the lottery.

“The Kenya Charity Sweepstake has a long history. In the past, the line between the private sector and government was grey. It was almost blurred. However, it is a private company, and I know the managing director. He is called Maj David Vauden,” Awori said.

Former Ol Kalou MP Muriuki Karue told the House he was surprised at how the business had framed itself into the fibre of government.

"Many of us are learning now that Kenya Charity Sweepstake is, in fact, a private organisation. Ordinarily, when we recommend schools and other beneficiaries of charity sweepstake funds, it is done through the District Commissioners," he said.

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