SportPesa Resumes Activity in Kenya
Online gambling giant SportPesa has just been granted permission to resume its operations in Kenya. This follows the recent news that Betway Kenya, another leader in the Kenyan online betting industry, was allowed to start working again. Kenya’s large desktop and mobile gambling community will no doubt be pleased to be able to enjoy SportPesa’s extensive odds and coverage once more.
Major Market Share Shutdown
SportPesa and Betway, along with fellow sportsbook Betin make up the lion’s share of Kenya’s sports betting sector. With 85% of the market between the 3 operators, the industry was seriously affected when Kenyan authorities did not renew their licences. At the same time, the licences of 16 smaller bookmakers were not renewed.
Kenya’s Stricter Gambling Laws
The reason for the failure to renew operating licences was the enforcement of much stronger gaming regulations in the country. The new Gambling Bill was unveiled in May 2019, and called for increased local Kenyan ownership requirements, lower minimum wagers, more regulatory taxes, greater measures against underage betting, and other reforms.
The goal with the Bill was to provide safer gaming environments, protect customers, and generate more tax revenue for the country. As part of these efforts, Kenyan Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i called for bookmakers to undergo a rigorous vetting process. Company premises and other aspects of their administration were examined.
Since Kenya’s tax codes were also recently rewritten, imposing a 20% levy on the gross amount wagered rather than on winnings, SportPesa and the other sportsbooks involves found themselves on the wrong side of the Kenya Revenue Authority. Betway was first to settle these newfound debs and be found in compliance, with SportPesa following shortly thereafter.
Though Dr Matiang’i’s directive generated considerable furore, especially around the job losses it would entail, ultimately it has meant that the government has earned a great deal in tax revenue. The Kenyan Betting Control and Licensing Board has also announced that a quarterly review and cumulative assessments will be applied to every gambling operator each year, evaluating compliance, before their permit is renewed.
SportPesa Looks to the Future
SportPesa was founded in Kenya in 2014, and has since extended its operations to South Africa, Tanzania, the United Kingdom and Europe. The brand is constantly looking to expand, performing good works across Africa and sponsoring international sports teams such as Britain’s Everton Football Club.
In an official statement that announced the relaunch, SportPesa explained that they had been “engaging stakeholders” on the current licensing issues. They added that their sessions with government officials and regulators had been intended to better understand the gaming industry, in an attempt to create “a shared perspective” on all related regulation. This includes tax administration.
The talks have led to “notable progress”, SportPesa continued, and said they were pleased to confirm that they had been cleared for licence renewal by the Kenya Revenue Authority. The relevant processes should be completed soon, allowing them to resume operations. Their immediate plans are unknown, but it seems certain that the company will continue to grow exponentially.