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SportPesa ends deals

SportPesa cancels partnerships with sports entities

The High Court ruled in their favour later in the month.

In Summary

•The firm, which bankrolls several sporting activities, cancelled all its local deals last year in January citing tax high

• SportPesa remains positive of a solution of the stand-off between them and the government.

Gor Mahia players celebrate winning last years trophy. Thy are some of the beneficiaries of SportPesa
Gor Mahia players celebrate winning last years trophy. Thy are some of the beneficiaries of SportPesa

Sports betting firm, SportPesa has cancelled its partnership deals with sports entities, citing unbearable business environment.

The gaming firm is among the 27 affected by the government’s decision to cancel their operating licenses and close their pay bill numbers and this has forced SportPesa to cancel all their partnerships for the second time since entering the Kenyan market.

The firm, which bankrolls several sporting activities, cancelled all its local deals last year in January citing tax high but returned in April the same year albeit on limited funding. The firm sponsors the Kenyan Premier League and the two biggest football clubs in the country; Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards.

Through the Football Kenya Federation, the firm assumed the sponsorship of the Shield Cup and runs the annual SportPesa Cup where the winner plays English side Everton in an international friendly match.

In June the government, through the Betting Control and Licensing Board, declined to renew their operating licenses and ordered all money transfer service providers to withdraw pay bill numbers hence grounding the firm’s operations.

On May 2, the Liti Wambua-led board banned outdoor, social media and television adverts as well as endorsing of betting by celebrities. However, the High Court ruled in their favour later in the month.

The debacle between the government and the betting firm has now culminated to the former cancelling their engagement in sports through sponsorship.

“The gaming industry has been operating in an extremely challenging business environment for the past couple of months.

"SportPesa as a business has been subjected to punitive measures by regulators such as delayed license renewal and the suspension of pay bill numbers with these actions considerably reducing the level of business operations.

"This is despite the existence of a court order prohibiting the regulator from taking such actions. This has brought about immense pressure on the business necessitating a reevaluation of some plans.

"In light of these developments, we regrettably wish to announce that due to the uncertainty of this situation SportPesa will be cancelling sports sponsorships effective immediately,” read gaming firm’s statement in part.

Further, the firm revealed that they had notified their partners and remained positive of a solution of the stand-off between them and the government.