Leading Kenyan bookmaker SportPesa has issued a statement to media and its corporate stakeholders underlining that its business will not be ‘shut down’ by Kenya’s current hostile agenda against licensed betting incumbents.
A turbulent week saw Kenyan betting grab global business headlines as the Uhuru Kenyatta government instructed a number of national departments to undertake the strictest of enforcements against gambling operators.
A frantic July, has seen 27 licensed operators (including SportPesa) suspended by Kenya’s Betting Control & Licensing Board (BCLB).
In addition, Kenya’s wider business community sees itself embroiled in betting’s regulatory dispute as the government has ordered telecom and banking firms to suspend all payment processing functions and to freeze betting-related corporate accounts.
Recognised as Kenya’s biggest bookmaker, SportPesa is at the centre of a KSH $3 billion (€27 million) tax dispute, related to contested charges on player winnings.
Maintaining Kenyan betting’s highest global profile, SportPesa is the current shirt sponsor of English football clubs Everton and Hull City, in addition to serving as principal partner of Formula 1 team Racing Point.
Noting wide stakeholder concerns and seeking to ‘refute claims of closure’, SportPesa governance has issued a statement detailing that it has engaged with the Kenyan government on its current dispute.
SportPesa governance underlines that it will not shut down its business and that the company is ‘positive in returning back to full operations’.
The Kenyan bookmaker makes its public statement, as last Thursday the Uhuru Kenyatta government ordered the Ministry of the Interior to sanction deportation orders on foreign-born bookmaker executives, who have been deemed to have violated their Kenyan visa work permit rights.
SportPesa has branded the BCLB’s enforcement as illegal, launching Nairobi counterclaims against the regulatory body, stating that the government cannot sanction any payment demands whilst its orders are being protested.
In previous statements, SportPesa Chief Executive & Co-Founder Ronald Karauri maintains that the company will not pay any tax BCLB tax demand, as the company had settled its tax affairs with the Kenyan Revenue Authority (KRA) through a Nairobi Court disposition.