Huge Blow for Kenyan football as Sportpesa halts operations

Sportpesa has officially ceased operations in Kenya leaving domestic football without one of its biggest sponsors.

The latest decision comes just days after the firm assured Kenyans they were in the process of returning to full operation after the long battle with the government over taxes.

SportPesa were the official sponsors of the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) and also partners with a number of Kenyan clubs among them giants Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards.

Through a statement the firm has announced a move to halt its operations in the Countrry saying they will only resume if the govenmernt puts in place ‘adequate taxation and non-hostile regulatory environment.’

The announcement also comes hours after the second-largest firm, Betin Kenya, announced it was declaring its staff redundant.

“SportPesa is disappointed with the decision by the Kenyan legislature to impose a 20% excise tax on all betting stakes,” read the statement from the betting firm.

“The tax is based on a fundamental misunderstanding by the Rotich led treasury of how revenue generation works in the bookmaker industry. Until such time that adequate taxation and non-hostile regulatory environment is returned, the SportPesa brand will halt operations in Kenya.

“This will have severe consequences for licensed betting companies, which dutifully pay their taxes and ultimately will lead to a decline in government tax revenue to near zero and will halt all investments in sports in Kenya.”

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) President Nick Mwendwa has termed the latest development as sad news to Kenyan football.

“It is sad news for us because they [SportPesa] had told us they will come back soon but now their exit means we have lost almost Sh600m as sponsorship for local football,” Mwendwa said.

“We will now turn to the Kenyan government for help because we don’t have any other solution. We will talk to them and see how good they can chip in and help us to push and manage the top leagues, which we already have.”

The latest move by SportPesa comes after the government’s decision to impose a 20 percent tax on all betting stakes, a move that the firms have cited as damaging on both their customers and treasury.