SportPesa is the most popular sport-betting company in Africa. Commenced operations in Kenya 6 years ago, the company now conducts business across several countries in Africa, Europe and the United States. In this article, we will discuss how the Kenyan government hampered the rapid growth of this betting and gaming giant and where things stands as of June 2020.
Sportpesa: Kenyans’ Hope To Escape Poverty.
At it’s peak in 2018, Sportpesa was beloved by most Kenyans as an easy way to quickly rise from rugs to riches by winning a hefty bet. There was even a story in the Kenya Digest of a man who sold his ksh. 25 million land to invest in this company.
Several Kenyans placed bets particularly on the English Premiere Leagues and won millions of shillings. Cosmas Korir won ksh. 208 million in December of 2018. Mr. Korir quickly used the money to build a 4-bedroom house in his home within months of winning the jackpot. He promised to continue betting since he enjoys the lifestyles of being rich.
Another lucky winner was Paul Wainaina who pocketed a Ksh. 8.9 million in October of 2018. Mr. Wainaina’s Win was the second SportPesa jackpot win after Andrew Mghanga had successfully scooped up the inaugural jackpot of Ksh 5.3 million in 2017.
Football Teams Sponsorship
Sportpesa became the first Kenyan company to sponsor a major English Premier League team when it inked a sponsorship of Everton United. This put the Kenyan startup company in par with major heavyweight corporations like Betway, Emirates and Etihad Airways that rely heavily on advertisement deals with the world’s most watched football clubs.
Apart from sponsoring teams overseas, Sportpesa partnered with local Kenyan football teams such as Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards as part of the Kenya Premier League. In fact, Sportpesa renamed the Kenya Premier League into Sportpesa Premier League. The naming rights here reflected on the startup betting company’s financial prowess.
Fall-Out with the Government
One will think that the government will be happy to have a company of Sportpesa’s magnitude to thrive within its borders. But apparently, Uhuru Kenyatta’s government had a less than favorable opinion of the betting and gambling industry. Through the Kenya Revenue Authority, the government got greedy and engaged in double-dipping by heavily taxing both the winning jackpot and the company itself.