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Dear Kenyan gambler, here’s why SportPesa has put you on hold

Last updated 2 months ago | By Robert Abong'o

Sportpesa CEO Ronald Karauri addressing during Sportpesa KPL Awards at the School of Government in Kabete on Thursday 25/10/19 [Boniface Okendo,Standard]

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

This slap on the face came hours after SportPesa Chief Executive (CEO) Ronald Karauri announced that a license held by a new operator, Milestone Games Limited, had acquired 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,” 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 licensing hence no firm can use the name until the matter before the 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 license and the matter will be heard on November 16, 2020,” read the statement in parts.

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.

SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri during the launch/draw of the FKF SportPesa Shield Tournament in Nairobi on Monday May 21, 2018. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

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 aforegoing, 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.

Why you are unable to place a bet or withdraw money on SportPesa

SportPesa went on to reveal why Kenyans have been unable to deposit or withdraw their money despite the firm resuming operations on Friday.

The firm apologised to customers and pointed out it was in consultation with the Government to restore services as soon as possible.

“We apologise to our customers over the disruption with our PayBill numbers affecting deposits and withdrawals.

“We are giving the issue our maximum attention. The hitch arises from the provider's side who we are in consultation with, in a bid to restore services.

“Our team assures you the safety of your money,” the giant sports betting firm said in a statement seen by The Standard Sport on Saturday night, October 31.

From Left- President FKF Nick Mwendwa, Ronald Karauri CEO SportPesa, PS Ministry of Sports Peter Kaberia, Ambrose Rachier Gor Mahia FC, Dan Mule Chairman AFC and Gor Mahia vice chairman John Pesa during sponsorship announcement of the resumption of sponsorship by SportPesa at Ministry of Sports offices in Nairobi on Monday April, 22, 2018. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

SportPesa shut down operations in Kenya last year citing heavy taxation and frustration from the Government.

The firm said Government's decision to impose a 20 per cent tax on all betting stakes was damaging on both their customers and treasury.

The company said compounded by the 20 per cent Withholding Tax on Winnings, the economic urge to place bets would be nonexistent as the taxes would deprive consumers of their total winnings.

The move came after another firm, Betin, sent home all its employees saying they were out of finances.

Efforts to hammer a deal with the Government proved futile, forcing the firm to send home employees.

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