SportPesa has received a license to operate for the current financial year from the Bettíng Control and Licensing Board (BCLB), the company has disclosed.
“We are in receipt of our licence BCLB no. 0000448 valid up to June 30th, 2023,” SportPesa noted in new communication seen by Business Today. SportPesa was among at least 97 firms which, as of July 1st, had failed to have their licenses renewed by the BCLB.
BCLB boss Cyrus Maina at the time noted that only 3 firms – Betika, Betafriq and Spotika – had been found to be compliant with relevant regulations as he asked telcos to ‘take necessary action’ against firms using their platforms. The companies primarily use mobile money platforms including M-Pesa and Airtel Money to receive deposits.
“The board hereby notifies you that only the following gaming operators have been found to be compliant with the Bettíng 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 in a letter to legal representatives of Safaricom and Airtel.
The confirmation of the firm’s licensing comes days after SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri was declared MP-elect for Nairobi’s Kasarani constituency. He vied as an independent candidate after losing out on the Jubilee Party ticket, and ended up trouncing both the Jubilee and UDA party candidates at the ballot.
SportPesa is a pioneer in the online sports bettíng industry in Kenya. Between 2014 and 2018, the firm’s cumulative revenues stood at Ksh228.4 billion.
Despite its early successes, SportPesa ceased operations in Kenya in 2019 at the height of a government crackdown on the sector and allegations of unpaid taxes. It returned to the market in 2020 through another company, Milestone Games, to whom the SportPesa brand, domains and paybills were transferred.
This, however, opened up another legal battle pitting SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri and Milestone Games, in which he owns a majority stake, against investors in Pevans East Africa led by Asenath Maina and Paul Ndung’u. Pevans EA brought SportPesa to the Kenyan market.
According to Maina, Karauri and other shareholders of Pevans and UK-based multinational SportPesa Global Holdings Limited (SPGHL), which owns subsidiaries in other markets, conspired and transferred the SportPesa trademark to Milestone which is using the brand in the Kenyan market after Pevans ceased operations.