The priniciple sponsors of Premier League football club Everton, SportPesa, have suspended all of their gambling operations in Kenya, as a result of the Kenyan government hiking up tax on betting stakes.
In recent years the African continent has been seen as an untapped and lucrative market for iGaming operations, to the extent that there are now dedicated conferences being held in the continent annually, where operators, game and platform developers and affiliates can get together.
Indeed, the ICE Africa conference which is being held in Sandton Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa, kicks off on Wednesday, 2nd October.
SportPesa who were established five years ago in 2014 and are headquartered in Nairobi Kenya, have over the past five years seen significant growth in their business, but the rise in taxes levied on the gambling industry within Kenya, has caused them to temporarily pause their operations in the country.
The Kenyan government have noticed the rise in the popularity of iGaming in the country and there is very real concern that adults and children could be drawn into a cycle of betting, debt, and poverty. With one Kenyan government minister stating that the iGaming industry was a: “a curse on youth.”
The Kenyan parliament have therefore taken the decision to increase the betting duty from 10% up to 20%, which has tipped the balance for SportPesa, resulting in their decision to suspend all betting activities in the country. With a spokesperson for the company, stating: “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.”
“Until such time that adequate taxation and non-hostile regulatory environment is returned, the SportPesa brand will halt operations in Kenya.”
Back in May 2017, SportPesa were unveiled as Everton’s shirt sponsor, in a five year deal, in what is thought to be the most lucrative sponsorship deal in the club’s history. At the time of the deal being announced, Ivo Bozukov, director of global strategy for SportPesa, said: ‘This is a proud and monumental day in the history of our organisation. Everton Football Club is a world-renowned sporting institution and a club of proud tradition and rich history.”