Sportpesa cancels all Sports Sponsorships

In what will prove to be a big blow to Gor Mahia and other sporting organizations, Sportpesa has canceled all sponsorships.

Additional reporting from the Star
SportPesa has cancelled all sports sponsorships after a prolonged battle with KRA over taxes.

In a statement on Friday, the firm said, “We regrettably wish to announce that due to the uncertainty of this situation SportPesa will be cancelling sports sponsorships effective immediately. All clubs and partners will have received notices as provided for in their contracts.” SportPesa said it has been subjected to punitive measures by regulators such as delayed license renewal and the suspension of Paybill numbers, which have reduced the level of business operations.

The firm said these measures have brought immense pressure on the business. “This despite the existence of a court order prohibiting the regulator from taking such actions,” the firm said. SportPesa said it is passionate about sports development in Kenya and the decision to stop sponsorships was difficult to make. “We greatly value our partnerships and we will endeavour to resume support to the best of our ability when the business recovers,” the firm said.

On April 1, Interior CS Fred Matiang’i vowed to introduce tough measures to regulate betting sector, which he accused of leading youths astray. He gave all firms three months up to July 1 to seek fresh renewal of licenses upon proving tax compliance. Among the conditions that betting and gaming firms had to meet before having their licences renewed is to be tax-compliant.

SportPesa is among the 27 betting firms whose licences the government refused to renew over a tax row. The firm, however, insisted it was tax compliant. Other firms whose licences were not renewed were Betin, Betway, Betpawa, Premierbet, Lucky 2 U, 1X Bet, Mozzartbet, Dafa bet, World Sport Bet, Atari Gaming, Palmsbet and Betboss. Others were Betyetu, Elitebet, Bungabet, Cysabet, Nestbet, Easybet, Kick Off, Millionaire Sports Bet, Kenya Sports Bet and Eastleighbet.

They were expected to prove that they had been operating within the law, and prove that they are sufficiently liquid and have performed financially well for the past four years. On July 22, KRA cleared Betway, OdiBets, Mozzartbet, Ken Bookmakers, Lucky 2u, Eazi Bet, Kick off, Eastleighbet, Palms Bet and Bet boss.