SportPesa issued with a licence to operate in Kenya
SportPesa on Thursday said they are back to operate in Kenya after the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) on Wednesday issued them with a betting licence for the years 2022-2023.
The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) revealed that it had cleared 105 betting firms paving the way for the issuance of their operating licences in the financial year ending June 2023.
The taxman said it cleared the firms between the start of last month and August 5 setting the stage for the renewal of their licences by BCLB.
Confirming the news, Lola Okulo, Assistant Marketing Manager Public Relations Marketing said that it was true they have been issued the licence.
“Yes. I confirm that we are in receipt of licence number 0000448 issued by the BCLB and valid up to June 2023,” she said.
Betting firms have in recent years been caught up in disputes with the taxman, leading to the controversial exit of some of the firms most notably SportPesa and Betin.
The KRA has in the past been embroiled in tax disputes with betting firms, the most notable cases being three years ago.
The taxman was pushing for tax arrears estimated at more than Sh90 billion from SportPesa (previous under Pevans East Africa) and Betin prompting a stand-off that led to the closure of businesses by the two firms.
Clearance for licensing by the BCLB is subject to approval by a multi-agency committee highlighting the tightened scrutiny by the State on an industry that has been flagged for money laundering.
SportPesa was launched in Kenya in 2014 by Pevans, a company whose shareholders included Asenath Maina with a 21 per cent stake, Paul Wanderi Ndungu (17 per cent), Mr Ronald Karauri (seven per cent) and Mr Robert Macharia (three per cent) and group of Bulgarian investors.
It quickly became the most popular brand in the lucrative sports betting industry, drawing annual revenue of Sh150 billion at its peak in 2018 before its licence was pulled a year later.
Mr Karauri would later emerge with a controlling 54.4 per cent stake in Milestone in the roundabout deals.
Mr Ndung’u and Ms Maina were meanwhile removed from the boards of the SportPesa entities where their stakes were also diluted.
By relaunching SportPesa under Milestone, the owners of the new venture effectively accessed the lucrative business while leaving behind the tax and regulatory troubles that brought down Pevans.
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