Why SportPesa is justified to withdraw local sports sponsorship but continue to sponsor Everton

SportPesa and 26 other betting firms got into trouble when on July 11th CS. Ministry of Interior Fred Matiang’i ordered suspension of operation for their licenses. It didn’t end there. The CS also ordered telecommunication companies led by Safaricom to withdraw the PayBill numbers the betting firms use to receive money from betters. Following these orders that were executed, SportPesa, Betin and the others tried to engage the Government to renew their licenses, but it seems the discussions have come to a stalemate as SportPesa yesterday sent a Press Release to newsrooms notifying the public that sportPesa will be cancelling sports sponsorship effective immediately.

The announcement that sportPesa will be cancelling sports sponsorship has not gone well with many sports lovers. According to some of them including Robert Alai, SportPesa’s announcement amounts to nothing but blackmailing Kenyans. “SportPesa is destroying this country and then blackmailing it because it has all mainstream media houses and journalists in its pockets. You can’t mop money from the hard working Kenyans and ship it overseas then bribe a few with a fraction of your loot to keep the cycle”, Alai tweeted.

According to Kennedy Kachwanya, the blackmail is made obvious by the fact that the betting firm has cancelled the sport betting in Kenya but not in the UK where it sponsors Everton and Formula 1. “Cancelled all the sport sponsorships in Kenya but not for the ones they have been shipping Kenyans money to like F1 and Everton…..blackmail”. From the tweet we also get the idea that the sports sponsorship in Kenya doesn’t appear to have been grounded on some firm agreement but appears to be in the form of handouts, that’s why SportPesa can walk in and out of the sponsorships at will.

From Robert Alai’s tweets, we come to learn of Kenyans who have no issue with SportPesa syphoning money from the local market to foreign markets like the UK. Their reasoning is that the money SportPesa is syphoning is theirs and they do not mind, arguing further that those complaining of SportPesa syphoning money to the UK don’t even know the meaning of Stake.

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They couldn’t be more wrong.

Their defence of SportPesa is akin to this kid who after his parents have done shopping, gives the neighbors the shopping items one by one, not knowing that sooner than later the items will be out of kitchen stock and he is the one who will have to sleep hungry. It is therefore important for everyone who loves SportPesa to rally behind the Government as the Government tries to ensure that the betting firms give value back to the society – by not only ensuring that the betting firms fulfill their tax obligations, but also do not syphon out our money to foreign nations through unwarranted sports sponsorships in those foreign nations.

Coming to the conclusion that SportPesa is blackmailing Kenyans by withdrawing local sports sponsorship while at the same time continuing to sponsor sports in foreign countries is also rushed. Rushed because this argument assumes that SportPesa is a strictly Kenyan company that doesn’t get revenues from any other territories. In the contrary and according to this Wikipedia Page, “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”.  Further, but reading the ownership section, it is stated that SportPesa is also in Italy “SportPesa in Kenya is owned and operated by Pevans East Africa, a company with shareholders from mostly Kenya, Bulgaria and the United States. Sportpesa in Italy is jointly owned with RCS Media, the largest media company in Italy”.

Through revenues SportPesa gets from those other countries, the betting firm is therefore totally justified to sponsor sports in the said countries.

Odipo Riaga
Managing Editor at KachTech Media
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