Dominant SportPesa eyes softer return to Kenyan football sponsorship

Kenyan news sources report that SportPesa expects to end its blackout of sports sponsorships, despite its ongoing betting tax dispute with the Uhuru Kenyatta government.

Entering 2018, SportPesa Chief Executive Ronald Karauri withdrew all active sports sponsorships, following through on his previous warnings to Kenyan Parliament which had implemented a blanket gambling tax revenue charge of 35% (previous 7.5%).

SportPesa’s sponsorship blackout would significantly impact the funds of the Football Kenya Federation (FKF), as the bookmaker would no longer be the lead sponsor of the Kenyan Premier League and Super 8 club competitions.

However, this April SportPesa has been reported to be in ‘open dialogue’ with Kenyan football governance, relating to the bookmaker’s return to football sponsorship.

SportPesa will likely take a softer approach to Kenyan football coverage, as the bookmaker is reported to be offering a lower KSH80m ($800,000) per season deal for its lead sponsorship of the Kenyan Premier League.

Furthermore, SportPesa marketing is reviewing its previous partnerships with Premier League teams’ Gor Mahia, AFC Leopards and the Nakuru All Stars.

Despite the sponsorship blackout, Ronald Karauri’s enterprise has maintained its dominant position as Kenya’s outright betting market leader.

Undertaking a Kenyan online gambling review, this April, Nielsen Research reported that 82% of Kenyan online betting consumers had opened accounts with SportPesa.

Furthermore, during its sports sponsorships embargo, Sportpesa has become the most searched Kenyan business enterprise on Google.co.ke.

Sportpesa’s dominance of the betting market sees African business analyst question whether the bookmaker actually needs to sponsor any Kenyan football content.

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