At least 97 firms have lost out as the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) renews licenses for the 2022-23 financial year. Only three companies have had their licenses renewed.
The details emerged in a letter from BCLB Chairman Cyrus Maina addressed to legal representatives of Safaricom and Airtel. Most betting firms receive deposits via Safaricom’s M-Pesa and Airtel’s Airtel Money, and the board works with telcos to shut down pay-bill accounts of non-compliant firms.
The three companies licensed to operate for the financial year are Betika, owned by Shop and Deliver Ltd, Pesa Bets Ltd’s Betafriq and Silicon Solutions Ltd’s Spotika.
Betting giant Sportpesa, a pioneer and long-time market leader in the space, is among the firms which have not had their licenses renewed. Ownership of the Sportpesa brand has been the subject of a legal tussle in the courts – with investors in Pevans East Africa accusing the Ronald Karauri-controlled Milestone Games of illegally transferring the brand from Pevans.
Several other firms which have invested heavily in establishing their presence in the market are also affected. They include MozzartBet and OdiBets.
In his letter, Maina noted that only 3 firms had been found to be compliant with relevant regulations as he asked the telcos to ‘take necessary action’.
“The board hereby notifies you that only the following gaming operators have been found to be compliant with the Betting Lotteries and Gaming Act as well as the operating requirements issued by the Board as of 1st July, 2022 and, therefore, their 2022/23 financial year licenses have been renewed,” Maina wrote.
Interestingly, 2 of the 3 licensed firms in the last month reportedly sealed sponsorship agreements with 2 of Kenya’s biggest football clubs.
Spotika unveiled a Ksh60 million agreement to back AFC Leopards. The deal will reportedly kick in at the start of the new season in September.
Gor Mahia, on the other hand, is said to be in advanced talks on a sponsorship agreement with Betafriq. The talks were confirmed by Betafriq GM Craig Oyugi.
“Gor Mahia is one of the clubs we are in talks with and very soon we will unveil sponsorship with the football teams we are currently engaging with. Betafriq’s core mandate will be investing a lot in sports,” Oyugi stated.
Both Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards were previously sponsored by Betsafe, which cited harsh economic times for terminating its sponsorship deals.