SportPesa: No, we aren’t retrenching our Kenyan staff or exiting market

By , K24 Digital
On Thu, 18 Jul, 2019 13:50 | 2 mins read
SportPesa has announced that it has stopped operations in Kenya until the “hostile business environment” in the country improves. [PHOTO | FILE]
Sportpesa CEO Ronald Karauri. [PHOTO | FILE]
SportPesa has announced that it has stopped operations in Kenya until the “hostile business environment” in the country improves. [PHOTO | FILE]

Giant betting firm, SportPesa, has rubbished claims going viral on social media that it is exiting its Kenyan market due to frustrations by the government.

The allegations first hit the internet on Thursday, July 18, with a report alleging that the company held a meeting on Wednesday to inform its Kenyan staff of the looming retrenchment.

SportPesa, according to the firm’s CEO Captain Ronald Karauri, directly employs at least 400 Kenyan citizens.

“SportPesa management held a meeting with its employees to inform them of plans to close down its business in Kenya and concentrate on its Tanzania and UK branches,” reads a statement purporting to reveal the deliberations of the said-Wednesday meeting.

“A source at the betting company informed them that the meeting between SportPesa and the [Kenyan] government bore no fruit,” the report, which has made the rounds online, further claims.

However, the management of the betting firm has since dismissed the allegations as “fake”, assuring its Kenyan customers that they are doing everything possible to resume normal operations.

“What you’re reading online about our alleged impending foldup in the Kenyan market is fake,” a management representative at SportPesa told K24 Digital on Thursday.

SportPesa is among the 27 betting companies in Kenya, whose licenses were not renewed on July 1 over allegations that they are yet to meet tax-compliance requirements.

The firm allegedly owes KRA billions of shillings in unremitted taxes, claims the company vehemently denies.

SportPesa alongside Betin and Betway control 85 per cent of the betting market in Kenya.

On Wednesday, July 17, SportPesa and Betin sued the Kenyan government, seeking compensation for the days it has been out of business after the State ordered Safaricom to stop processing payments for sports betting companies.

SportPesa and Betin say the July 12 termination of its M-Pesa Paybill numbers and SMS short codes are illegal because they have court orders allowing them to continue being in business despite being denied licences by the government.

The two companies want the suspension of their payment systems lifted and the chairman and top bosses of Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) imprisoned or fined for ordering the switch-off despite the court edict.

They also want the court to quash a notice issued by BCLB to Safaricom that disabled their SMS short codes and M-Pesa Paybill numbers.