Gaming giant SportPesa terminates
Big blow to Kenya as SportPesa terminates all its sponsorships. File Photo

Gaming giant, SportPesa has cancelled all its sponsorships in Kenya due to signs of a challenging environment that the gaming organization identified as a hindrance to its business.

With claims of operating in a difficult and challenging environment, the gaming giant stressed that it has been a compliant organization abiding with all the statutory and regulatory requirements.

In light of these developments, we regrettably wish to announce that due to the uncertainty of this situation SportPesa will be cancelling sports sponsorships effective immediately,” read a statement issued by the gaming industry.

But identified that the Government’s move to block its PayBill numbers has brought about immense pressure on their business necessitating a re-evaluation of some plans.

“The gaming industry has been operating in an extremely challenging business environment for the past couple of months,” part of the statement read. 

It added,

“SportPesa as a business has been subjected to punitive measures by regulators such as delayed license renewal and the suspension of PayBill numbers with these actions considerably reducing the level of business operations.” 

However, the SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri confirmed that the betting giants will continue sponsoring several sports entities like before, with the no intention of pulling down the deals.

“I will continue supporting,” Karauri said.

“All clubs and partners will have received notices as provided for in their contracts. SportPesa is passionate about sports development in the country and this decision was regrettably arrived at haltingly and after a lot of deliberation and thought,” he added.

Appropriately, SportPesa who remain hopeful in stabilizing the bad situation also assured stakeholders that their sponsorships will continue once all is sorted.

“For now, we remain positive that the current situation will be resolved amicably and urgently, and we continue to seek the goodwill of all actors towards normalising the environment for the gaming industry,” the statement concluded.

Meanwhile, this cancellation only applies to SportPesa in Kenya and does not affect (Sport Pesa) sponsorships in other countries.

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Earlier this week, the company pledged its continued support to Kenyan sports regardless of the government’s action to withdraw payment services.

SportPesa is a Kenyan sports betting platform with operations in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, the Isle of Man and the UK, where it operates in conjunction with TGP Europe.

Being the main sponsor of many local football clubs and other sports in Kenya, SportPesa on 6th August 2015 signed a four-and-a-half-year deal with the Kenya Premier League (KPL) reportedly worth Sh450 million to gain naming rights.

Under the same contract, it saw Kenya’s top-flight football league, renamed as SportPesa Premier League.

The gaming company also sponsors the SPL perennial champions Gor Mahia and their rivals AFC Leopards in a deal worth Sh120 million each year.

About 27 other companies also had their licenses cancelled by the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) following claims of tax invasion with some failing to renew their licenses by 1st July – the agreed-upon deadline.

By John Dalton Kigozi