Is SportPesa back? The Premier League is here with us.
This means different things to different people across the globe. For some, it means a chance to enjoy as they cheer their favourites while to others, this is purely business. Wondering how?
Betting has been one of the benefits enjoyed by those who love to gamble. For the citizens of Kenya, this raises the question, is SportPesa back?
SportPesa sent out a press release on 3rd September 2019 indicating that they had been cleared by the KRA to operate. However, the betting company is yet to resume full operations since its license has not been renewed yet by the Betting Control and Licensing Board.
It remains to be seen how soon the betting giant will start working again as this comes hot on the heels of competitors such as Betway having their licenses renewed. Interior cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i seems to be doing the seemingly impossible to fight corruption in Kenya.
The gambling sector has been on the receiving end since July 2019 after 27 of them got suspended. As if that was not enough, the CS deported 17 gambling company’s directors. The majority were foreigners from Eastern Europe. Those foreigners were believed to be performing other forms of businesses that had not been postulated on their work licenses and permits.
In the middle of this crackdown, SportPesa is one of the companies that have been largely affected to the point of suing the government for stalling the half a billion transaction that occurs daily. What next? Is SportPesa back? What are the court proceedings? Let’s find out.
On 10th July 2019, the government of Kenya gave out an order demanding the immediate withdrawal of betting codes that belonged to 27 gambling companies. Unfortunately, SportPesa was one of the 27 gambling companies that were affected by having their operating license cancelled.
On 12th July 2019, the company’s M-Pesa Pay Bill and SMS short codes were switched off. As a result, all gamblers have been deprived of the ability to access this SportPesa betting site because the SportPesa Pay Bill numbers were suspended by telcos.
According to the Kenyan government, these betting companies had failed to renew their licenses within the stipulated time. The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) is currently demanding that Safaricom should pay them a whopping Ksh.200 billion as withholding taxation in arrears from Betin Kenya, SportPesa and other gambling companies.
The company, on the other hand, claims that suspension of Pay Bill and SMS shortcodes are illegal since they have a court order to continue with the business. At the moment, this gambling company has sued the government demanding to be compensated for the period they have been out of business.
SportPesa wants the actions taken by the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) to be reversed, terming them malicious because the company has a legal court order.
We are here to stay?
After the government refused to renew the operating license of SportPesa, rumours have been circulating that the gambling company is on the verge of closing down. However, SportPesa has come out strongly to reassure its people that they are not closing down and the reports making rounds are false.
In a statement released by the gambling company, they stated ”we are optimistic that soon, the company will be back to full operation’. They told the fans that any update concerning the proceeding or any other information would be communicated via the company’s official channels.
Our support is still intact
Following the suspension of some gambling sites including SportPesa, local footballers and football fans have been worried that the company might withdraw its support to the various sports entities in Kenya. Luckily, the CEO of the company Mr Ronald Karauri made it clear that the company had no intentions of suspending or terminating the sponsorship deals it has with several sports bodies.
The financial benefits these sports entities enjoy from SportPesa betting company is worth several hundreds of millions. SportPesa is the only company sponsoring Kenya’s Top-Flight Football League dubbed SportPesa Premier League at an estimated cost of Ksh.150 million every year. T
he funds cater to the administrative cost such as running the competitions, facilitating and reimbursing referees and match commissioners. The company supports 18 teams, 18 coaches, close to 800 players under the age of 36 and 300 support staff.
Since the crackdown on SportPesa and other gambling companies, fans have been eagerly waiting for the restoration of the normal operation of the company. Although the company says that someone can still play and withdraw, as usual, this is a possibility only for the customers with money in their SportPesa accounts because you can no longer deposit more into the account.
In this regard, SportPesa still holds the claim that discussion and court order proceedings are underway. The fans seem to have gotten tired of hearing the same response every day. They took it to social media to express that there are not interested in the updates. Instead, they only want to hear that SportPesa is back in Kenya, and its site is back to regular operation.
Is SportPesa back?
Now back to the elephant in the room, is SportPesa back to business? Unfortunately, the answer is currently NO. However, there are ongoing discussions with the company’s stakeholders, the government, as well as the regulators. There is no specified time to resume, but the company promises to keep the fans updated.
When the solution to a particular problem is beyond what we can tackle, the only option is to wait patiently for the outcome. As much as we might keep asking is SportPesa back and show impatience and displeasure with the crackdown, there is nothing we can do but to wait for the involved parties to resolve their differences. To all the fans and other affected customers, let’s chill and see what transpires as we hope for the best.