After months of suspending licenses of several betting firms in Kenya, Government last week renewed about ten licenses but left out betting giants Sportpesa and Betin. In response to that move, the gambling giants have halted there operations in Kenya until further notice.
This comes amid worries about the effects of gambling addiction in the country and the Kenya Revenue Authority complains on tax evasion. Sportpesa is a giant firm that has rapidly grown in recent years with riding waves of gambling enthusiasm.
Government statistics show that gambling businesses raised over 200 billion shillings in revenue last year. The business relies heavily on faster internet, craze for English Premier League and availability of cheaper smart phones. Concerns are there that adults and young people are being sucked into a cycle of betting, debts and poverty.
Ministry of Interior through its CS Fred Matiang’i in May introduced strict regulations in the gambling industry including ban on outdoor advertisements and social media. The parliament also voted to raise exercise duties on bets from 10% to 20%. Sportpesa felt disappointed with this move and promised to halt its operations in Kenya until a non-hostile environment returns.
Sportpesa has now deactivated its website claiming that the new tax comes on top of an existing 20% on individual gamblers’ win. The firm was founded in Nairobi by Bulgerian investors and has partnerships with EPL clubs as Arsenal, Hull City, and Everton. Sportpesa supports a lot of community work done by Everton Football Club.