Sportpesa is returning to the Kenyan market after more than one year of absence. The sports betting company confirmed it would be resuming operations in Kenya in a few weeks’ time after sorting out tax compliance issues with the government.
The announcement was made by Sportpesa CEO Ronald Karauri on Friday, October 30. The company has acquired a new license from the Betting and Control Licensing Board (BCLB) and a new platform, ke.sportpesa.com. While features such as live games remained limited, users were already able to place bets on a raft of several games, including Premier League matches.
SportPesa was among 27 betting firms that had their trading licenses revoked by the government in July 2019 due to failure to pay taxes amounting to billions of shillings. SportPesa has hit the ground running, indicating that it will in the coming weeks explore a wide range of partnerships in the country.
“SportPesa is delighted to resume operations in Kenya,” it says in a statement. “We are pleased to once again offer gaming services to our customers. Over the coming months, we are excited to explore a wide range of new partnerships in the country.”
The company had maintained a presence in countries including Tanzania and the United Kingdom after leaving Kenya, where it had established itself as a pioneer. At its peak, Sportpesa was the biggest, most preferred gaming platform in Kenya. The company’s exit saw competitors including Betika, Odi Bets and Mozzart Bets scramble to fill the gap.
SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri also announced on his social media pages the return of the betting firm. “SportPesa is back! I’m happy to announce that the SportPesa brand is back under a new BCLB licence holder.
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He said as market leaders, SportPesa will focus on upholding the highest standards of service and responsible gaming. He said SportPesa partnerships will prioritise the development of sports in communities across Kenya.
By the time SportPesa left the Kenyan market, it had pumped at least Ksh500million into Kenyan football, being title sponsors of the Kenya Premier League, KPL giants Gor Mahia, AFC Leopards and Nakuru All-Stars.
The firm also had a partnership with the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) as it also sponsored Harambee Stars as well as the FKF Shield Cup, whose winner represents the country in the CAF Champions League. Also, Sportpesa that was responsible for bringing both Everton FC and Hull City FC to play against Kenyan football clubs.
Its return was excitedly welcomed by several Kenyans, particularly on social media. Capitalizing on the interest, Sportpesa published a message on its website teasing that ‘the best’ was back.
SportPesa’s exit hit Kenyan football as teams struggled to honour league matches. Sony Sugar relegation to the lower league for missing three matches is attributed to SportPesa’s exit, while Chemelil and Nzoia had also missed two matches and were on the verge of being relegated before the league was paused owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The teams also could not sustain their foreign players with both Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards the most affected, losing players to other clubs. Financial woes also saw Leopards coach Casa Mbungo return to his native country Rwanda.