Betting companies in Kenya face competition as Betsafe move in

It wasn’t long before the gap left by SportPesa in Kenya was filled by a number of international sites that look set to dominate the country’s betting landscape, writes Adam Grimshaw, who manages Leadstar Media affiliate brand

With the Kenyan-born betting site SportPesa barred from trading in the country since a dispute with the government and the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB), there are other actors looking to try their hand in the Kenyan market.

One such arrival on Kenyan soil is Betsafe. But the subsidiary of Betsson Group is just the latest in line of betting companies in Kenya to have appeared on the scene since the SportPesa banishment back in the summer of 2019.

The Kenyan betting scene is certainly no dull place to be. SportPesa was part of the wider opposition to a newly instated tax on betting introduced by the government that led to the disbarment of over 20 betting companies which had their licences revoked by the BCLB.

SportPesa continues to operate in other African countries such as Tanzania, as well as further afield in the UK, but has repeatedly been unsuccessful with attempts to re-enter its home market. Just last month, for example, the BCLB blocked its bid to relaunch under a licence held by new operating firm ‘Milestone Bet’.

Since the disbarment of so many locally based bookmakers, SportPesa included, there has been a concerted push from a number of international operators who view Kenya as one of the next burgeoning betting markets in Africa. 

The likes of 22Bet, Betway and most recently Betsafe are now offering Kenyan punters the opportunity to partake in top quality sports betting that was previously unavailable in the East African nation just a short time ago. 

Such international operators are able to offer Kenyan players more varied betting packages that are enjoyed elsewhere in the world, with state of the art betting features and bonuses that ramp up the competition for native operators. 

Additionally, many international bookmakers are now offering global benefits with domestic frills that are purely suited to Kenyan players. Mobile payment methods such as M-PESA and Airtel – alongside deposits in Kenyan shillings – provide perfect access for the everyday Kenyan punter. 

While the likes of Betway have sought to subsume the Kenyan betting market, the entrance of Betsafe represents just one more international betting site that seeks to take a slice of the cake. 

Betsafe have been making loud noises in Kenya with high profile sponsorships of Kenyan soccer teams such as domestic giants Gor Mahia as well as current league leaders AFC Leopards. It represents a move that has mimicked Betway’s involvement in local soccer leagues across its operative markets on the African continent. 

The entry of Betsafe into the Kenyan gambling market further bolsters the argument that Kenya is fast emerging as not just one of the most attractive African markets but indeed globally.

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