Is SportPesa shutting down? Firm addresses gamblers’ fears

By Robert Abong'o: Friday, July 19th 2019 at 11:30 GMT +3 | Sports
Sportpesa CEO Ronald Karauri [Courtesy]

Sports betting firm SportPesa has issued a statement concerning their current situation.

This is following the cancellation of 27 betting company licenses due to failure to meet the Government’s new rules and regulations on license renewal.

This move by the government looks to have betting companies reportedly evading tax comply with the State’s policies on gambling.

On Thursday, July 19, SportPesa moved quick to assure fearful customers that the business was not in its penultimate stages and that discussions were being held with relevant parties to come up with a solution.

“SportPesa wishes to refute claims that our business is closing down. We are in discussions with the government and relevant stakeholders and are positive that we will be back to full operation soon. Note that any update regarding our business is communicated through our channels,” they posted on Facebook.

On Tuesday, July 16, the betting firm reportedly sued the State, seeking compensation for the period it has been out of business.

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Sportpesa's Facebook post [Courtesy]

In the suit, Sportpesa said that it had not broken any regulatory requirements and conducted its business according to the law.

Despite securing temporary court orders suspending Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB)’s decision to withdraw their license, SportPesa described the move by BCLB to suspend its M-Pesa pay bills and SMS short codes as ‘unlawful’ and in contravention of a court order.

The betting company also accused the State of refusal to renew its license and wanted the court to stop a directive by the government to Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom to suspend its M-Pesa pay bills and SMS shortcodes.

“The action of the respondents are not unreasonable, irrational and high- handed but also clearly amount to deliberately abuse of office and state power to achieve ulterior ends,” the suit seen by GameYetu read.

In a newspaper advert dated Tuesday, 16th, citing Google Analytics, SportPesa confirmed most of the users on the platform are between the ages of 25 and 24.

They also outlined they owned ZERO betting shops in the country and that they conducted their business online.

Statistics provided by the company show that people aged between 25 and 34 years use the platform the most – averaging 59.74 per cent of the site visits.

It also shows that 35 to 44 year-olds accounts for 23.46 per cent of the site visitors while the ages of 18 to 24 the site the least - 4.90 per cent.

The total traffic according to the analysis stood at 705,813 visitors between June 1 and June 30 this year.

Gor Mahia Chairman Ambrose Rachier earlier this week fired a warning after the shortcode and paybill number shutdown, saying K’Ogalo’s CAF Champions League missions could be hindered.

Chairman Gor Mahia Ambrose Rachier [Courtesy]

“It is doom and gloom. It is our prayer that the standoff between the government and betting firms is resolved amicably. Of course, we understand the position of the government, but whatever action they take they should also consider the sports industry. SportPesa and other betting companies have invested millions of shillings,” said Rachier.

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