Nairobi News


Comeback? Activity on SportPesa website hints at return to local market

Betting company SportPesa, which halted their operations in the country might be making a comeback after relaunching its website almost a year after taking it down.

Sportpesa, which was the largest betting firm in Kenya the country before stringent government demands forced it to close shop, has been out of action for almost a year.

Having exited the local betting scene, the Sportpesa website was not accessible to its Kenyan betting fraternity but had been dropping hints of making a return.

Sportpesa CEO Ronald Karauri once said the firms would consider returning if the government loosens regulations that made it difficult for them to operate profitably.

However, the betting company might be set for a comeback whether the strict regulations are changed or not, going by the recent hints the company has dropped.

The firm’s website is back with minimal changes, even as local punters are still unable to place bets until the makes a formal announcement on a possible return.

There is minimal sporting action currently due to ongoing coronavirus pandemic and also the website does not accept deposits yet but promises to resolve this.

“Due to regulatory restrictions, we are currently unable to accept deposits from customers in your jurisdiction. We are working on resolving this promptly and will be in touch with you as soon as possible,” the company said in a statement to Kenyan punters who try to deposit to the website.

Sportpesa was among 27 betting companies which were barred from operating in Kenya and their licenses revoked over a taxation row that found its way to court.

In a statement last year, the firm said it would resume operations when the country puts in place, “adequate taxation and non-hostile regulatory environment.”

“The tax is based on a fundamental misunderstanding by the (former Treasury CS Henry) Rotich-led treasury of how revenue generation works in the bookmaker industry. This decision will have a damaging impact on both customers and treasury,” the statement read in part.

Sportpesa further said compounded by the currently in-effect 20 percent withholding tax on winnings, the economic incentive to place bets will be completely removed as the taxes will deprive consumers of their total winnings.