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Fresh blow for SportPesa CEO Karauri hours after announcing return to Kenyan market

FOOTBALL By Odero Charles | November 2nd 2020
CEO SportPesa Ronald Karauri. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Betting firm SportPesa has been dealt a blow after the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) on Saturday, October 31 prohibited Milestone Games Limited from using the trade-name SportPesa.

This came hours after SportPesa Chief Executive (CEO) Ronald Karauri announced that a licence held by a new operator, Milestone Games Limited, had acquired the rights to use the SportPesa brand-name in Kenya and that he was delighted to resume operations.

“SportPesa is back! I’m happy to announce that the SportPesa brand is back under a new BCLB license holder. https://ke.SportPesa.com #SportPesaisBack ,” he said on Twitter.

In a statement addressed to Milestone Games Limited operation manager Bernard Chauro, Safaricom PLC’s legal officer Daniel Ndaba and acting Communication Authority of Kenya director-general Mercy Wanjau, BCLB chairperson Cyrus Maina said the board had blocked Milestone Games Limited from using the tradename Sportpesa on grounds that the original owner of the name, Pevans East Africa Limited, had filed a case in court over licencing hence no firm can use the name until the matter before court is dispensed with.

“According to information in our possession, the trading name SportPesa belongs to Pevans E.A Limited which has filed a case in court over gaming lincence and the matter will be heard on November 16, 2020,” read the statement in parts.

SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri when he appeared before the Senate Justice and Legal Affairs Committee over the halting of Licences and permits of betting and Gaming at County Hall,Nairobi on Wednesday 31/07/19[Boniface Okendo,Standard]

Bearing in mind that the case is yet to be heard and determined, the board directed Milestone Games Limited to desist from using the name Sportpesa until the case is heard and instead use its name Milestone Bet.

“You are authorised to continue trading as Milestone Bet, through the domains www.milestonebet.co.ke, www.milestone---games.co.ke, and www.milestonegames.com,” he said.

The board  also prohibited Milestone Games Limited  from using the tradename Sportpesa, the domains www.ke.sportpesa.com, www.sportpesa.co.ke, short codes 29050 and 79079, Pay Bill numbers 521521, 9555700 and 955700 until such a time when the Court of Appeal shall make a determination on the pending matter in court.

“In the light of the aforeogoing, the board is of the opinion that Milestone Games Limited will create confusion to the general public to which tradename the company wishes to adopt. The reason being there is a variance in the tradename the Board approved vis-à-vis the name Milestone Games Limited currently wishes to adopt,” he said.

The board had suspended SportPesa’s licence back on July 1, 2019, claiming the firm owed millions in unpaid tax. Payment options were also suspended.

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