Just the other day, Sportpesa announced their re-enter into the Kenyan market but the re-launch was short-lived, their license to operate in the country was canceled by the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB). However, the company will remain in business until January 25, 2021.
High Court Judge P. Nyamweya gave stay orders that allow the company to keep operating until the court makes a ruling on their case in January 25, 2021. For now, until that date, Sportpesa has confirmed that their paybill numbers will remain operational.
The cancelation of their license came after BCLB realized that Milestone Gaming, the holding company of Sportpesa, changed its shareholders shortly after being granted a license for the 2020-2021.
According to BCLB, the change of ownership broke operating requirements and Section 5 of the Act by circumventing and evading due diligence and investigations of the new owners. In other words, the Betting Board usually does background checks on the people behind a company seeking a gambling license, if those people turn out to be fit to conduct business in the country, the license is then issued. Now, if a licensed betting company wants to change its shareholders/ownership, the new people coming in are required to go through the same vetting process and BCLB’s approval.
When Milestone Gaming Limited was applying for their license, it had submitted Nob Five Limited (9,950 shares), and Wilson Ngatia Karungura (50 shares) as its shareholders.
Nob Five belonged John Munene Nderitu, Jackline Nyambura Kungu, and Joseph Muendo Mutua.
The Betting Board said that the shareholders of Milestone Games were changed, the new owners are now Selenium Limited (9,600 shares) and Jackline Nyamburura Kungu with 400 shares. Digging deeper, it was then established that Selenium Limited belonged to two people, Francis Waweru Kiarie, the Chairman of Pevans, the company that formally owned the Sportpesa brand; and Ronald Kamwiko Karauri, the CEO of Sportpesa.
The shareholders of Milestone Limited were asked to appear before the BCLB on December 3rd to show cause why its license should not be canceled. Unconvinced by the explanations given, the Betting Board decided to cancel the license.
“Accordingly, and for the reasons stated here in above it is the decision of the Board that your company’s Bookmakers’ off-the-course licence number 0000205 dated October 6, 2020 be and hereby cancelled.”
Milestone Games then obtained a letter in court that was to stop the Betting Control and Licensing Board from interfering with their operations. The court will rule on the case in January as we had stated earlier, that ruling could determine the fate of the once very popular sports betting company.