April 20, 2020 3 min read


SportPesa Restores Access to Its Website from Kenya, Stirs Rumours of a Possible Comeback

  • [UPDATE – 30/10/20]: SportPesa has just announced its return to Kenya minutes ago (as of press time). All gaming and sports betting services have been resumed – read the details here.
  • [UPDATE – 31/10/20]: The Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) has suspended Milestone Games Limited’s right to use the ‘SportPesa’ trademark – read the full story.

SportPesa, the Liverpool-headquartered sports betting operator that have a significant presence in Africa is rumored to be considering a return to Kenya, after being out of action in the country for more than a year.

Tax Dispute

The company behind the SportPesa betting brand that has shareholders mainly from Kenya, Bulgaria and the USA, was forced to abandon operations in Kenya due to the introduction of stringent tax legislation, having to lay off more than 450 local employees in the process.  

SportPesa was infuriated by the government’s attempt to tax gross receipts by 20%, instead of the winnings of betting operators, and appealed to the Tax Appeals Tribunal in Nairobi, together with fellow industry company Betin.

The tribunal sided with the two betting companies in Kenya, ruling that tax should be applied to net winnings, even provided protection for sports books from future prosecution by shifting the remittance of the tax to bettors, instead of having it deducted at the source. The tribunal decision was related to the aggressive actions Kenyan authorities were showing against the industry until that moment.

Regulator Stepped In

Having won the legal battle meant nothing for SportPesa, though, as the Betting Control and Licensing Board /BCLB/, the regulatory body in Kenya, suspended its license July 1, 2018, claiming the operator owed hundreds of millions of unpaid taxes. The company’s payment processing channels were also suspended.

Further on, SportPesa lost its Nairobi High Court appeal against the decision of BCLB not to renew its license. The judge ruled that the regulator acted within its remit as a governing body, by simply not renewing SportPesa’s licence, regardless of its ongoing tax dispute with the Kenyan government. Having won the legal battle but lost the war, SportPesa was forced to shut down operations in Kenya, including restricting access to its website for Kenyan-based customers.

Website Now Accessible

Recently, SportPesa’s website has become accessible for Kenyan people again, stirring rumours that the betting operator is strongly considering a return to the market, where it was the largest sports book before. Though the company does not accept deposits yet, the website access was enough to put the rumour mill in motion, especially considering the words from Ronald Karauri, the company’s CEO, who in February neither confirmed nor rejected whether SportPesa was coming back to Kenya.

“We submitted our application to BCLB some months ago and we are still waiting for feedback. If we do get our license renewed we shall let everyone know.”

Ronald Karauri, CEO, SportPesa

This response is seriously toned down from SportPesa’s late 2019 statement that the company would return to Kenya when the country provided “adequate taxation and non-hostile regulatory environment”, and suggests the betting operator is considering a possible return with, or without changes to the taxation law.


Simon is a freelance writer who specializes in gambling news and has been an author in the poker/casino scene for 10+ years. He brings valuable knowledge to the team and a different perspective, especially as a casual casino player.


  • Mike
    June 8, 2020 at 9:46 am

    Can the government allow sportpesa betting company to return it’s operation in Kenya because it will contribute more taxes in the country because is international betting company all so they will support our local teams like AFC leopards ,Gori mahia etc and they will employe more Kenyans please government we beg you allow this company to come back?.

  • [email protected]
    June 12, 2020 at 1:31 pm

    Please government allow sportpesa in Kenya we don’t have jobs

  • Silvester
    June 24, 2020 at 6:07 pm

    I need it back. Kenyan companies are not transparent.

  • Mekenye
    July 1, 2020 at 11:43 am

    Betting is a world gambling accepted game, provided they pay the legal taxes we hatch our government to allow Sportpesa back to Kenya to create more jobs opportunities and get more taxes.

  • Mekenye Patrick
    July 1, 2020 at 11:44 am

    Betting is a world gambling accepted game, provided they pay the legal taxes we hatch our government to allow Sportpesa back to Kenya to create more jobs opportunities and get more taxes.

  • Benson
    July 1, 2020 at 4:54 pm

    My humble requst to the kenyan government is that to consider fovarable factors and condition which will lead to the return of sportpesa by doing this it eliminated the “monopolystic” of the betting industry which is experienced now, it will olso contribute to government gross revenue, support of local football clubs and finally job creation will eventully be created.

  • Daniel Omondi
    July 3, 2020 at 6:24 pm

    Fight we need you back to enjoy our sports

  • Joseph
    July 6, 2020 at 8:27 pm

    I think it’s the high time to boost the Economy of Kenya due to effect of covid 19 pandemic thank you mu

    • Bosco mutua
      October 30, 2020 at 8:16 pm

      We need it other betting side are misusing us

  • Eric
    July 10, 2020 at 8:34 am

    Your betting site was the best of all ,and we hope by next week you will be operating

  • Benjamin
    July 10, 2020 at 3:50 pm

    Sportpesa was the best betting company, where millions of jobless Kenyans were earning a living. Please sportpesa come back.

  • Julius
    July 18, 2020 at 3:18 pm

    We need sport pesa back in kenya

  • Kulex
    July 19, 2020 at 1:21 am

    I think the president gave an order for all gambling sites to continue with the business and I thought that his words were clear so where is the problem?

    August 26, 2020 at 6:53 pm

    I humble request the Kenyan government to allow this betting site be back to normal as to help our youth and society at large.

  • Daniel
    October 7, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    For us who were sportpesa customers we miss it so much.. please let them come back

  • Gilbert Langat
    October 8, 2020 at 4:04 am

    Please our local companies are not transparent so we need affair side like sportpesa , So please we are eager to hear that sportpesa is back

  • Moses
    October 30, 2020 at 6:03 pm

    In ally achievements was from sportpesa plz government allow this sports is the only true company betting in Kenya and neighborhood country?

  • Mbaluka joseph
    October 30, 2020 at 6:11 pm

    It’s officially back

  • Charles Osikol
    October 30, 2020 at 7:44 pm

    The best and sure betting co with clear foundation once you have won you have won not like other betting apps they don’t give true results.

  • Vuzi
    October 30, 2020 at 8:08 pm

    Hunaingoja sana iyo,kabeike kanatsetseza to

  • George
    October 30, 2020 at 8:30 pm

    Am now free it’s back now we back on our job as usual

  • Isaac
    October 31, 2020 at 5:49 am

    Sportpesa is Kenyan ting but my plea is once back don’t let small arguments with government on taxing and licensing kill it again.This time we trust your come back is properly worked on.we love you on behalf of cheerful Kenyans.

  • Collins
    October 31, 2020 at 6:24 am

    We yarning to have please

  • Edwin
    October 31, 2020 at 8:13 am

    I like betting

  • James mwirigi
    October 31, 2020 at 9:59 am

    I like this cant wait this, , , , everyweek was congratulations only kindly do it in hurry

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