SportPesa pull the plug on business in Kenya

Sunday, 29 September, 2019 22comments  |  Jump to last

SportPesa, Everton's shirt sponsor, have ceased operations in Kenya for what they deem to be the hostile environment created by the that country's government.

Along with other betting companies, SportPesa had its licence suspended in Kenya, with the government claiming that online betting outfits aren't doing their part to curtail addiction to gambling among the country's young people and don't pay enough tax.

A SportPesa spokesperson said: “SportPesa is disappointed with the decision by the Kenyan legislature to impose a 20% excise tax on all betting stakes.

“Until such time that adequate taxation and non-hostile regulatory environment is returned, the SportPesa brand will halt operations in Kenya.

“SportPesa's operational closure in Kenya will not impact our business operations in other markets or our global sponsorships.”

Quotes sourced from MailSport


Reader Comments (22)

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Peter Gorman
1 Posted 29/09/2019 at 21:52:22
Hmmm, not sure SportPesa will go down as being on the right side of history.
Derek Knox
2 Posted 29/09/2019 at 21:59:35
I suppose whatever the political situation is, or develops into, not being an expert on African or Kenyan politics, gambling is a problem the whole world over. It's like anything really, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, is having the self control, to ignore it altogether or enjoy it in moderation.

Easier said than done in many cases! I am always skeptical of politicians in general, and wonder if there is something more behind this.

Anyway one thing for sure we won't have to play the Kariobangi Sharks for a while.

Paul Tran
3 Posted 29/09/2019 at 22:23:31
As a punter, my argument against the likes of SportPesa and other 'newer' bookies is the reliance on enticing generous odds on your first bet, with some small print that says you have to play through your winnings before you can withdraw your money. My experience of these firms is that they're very quick to restrict your account after a couple of wins.

They're only interested in the uninformed punters, who are, unfortunately, the ones least likely to exercise control and most likely to get into difficulty.

Rob Hooton
4 Posted 29/09/2019 at 22:25:10
Would be good for our government to curtail the gambling industry a bit more – but I imagine the bribes... sorry, lobby groups, make that unlikely.
Paul Tran
5 Posted 29/09/2019 at 22:31:50
Yes Rob, they should do something about these introductory offers, but there is a hard-core of 'libertarian' Conservative MPs who are happy to let these bookies run amok. Two of them are effectively sponsored by bookmakers.

Worth remembering that most punters play without getting into difficulty. If every bet of mine was a loser, it would still be a cheaper hobby than following the Blues around the country!

Amit Vithlani
6 Posted 30/09/2019 at 05:52:43
Peter @ 1 - if you mean that the govt. are right to be looking at such measures, you are spot on. Frankly the situation has not been well managed. I feel SportPesa underestimated how negative the sentiments were towards their activities.

As a Kenyan, this affair pains me, but the govt are (on the face of it) are right. Gambling in developing, religious (Christian) country like Kenya is a similiar issue to the sprouting of Casinos on native land in the US. SportPesa had to really tread very carefully. Suffice to say they didn't, and have had to pay the price.

Derek @ 2 - yes there is more to this, but I'd say a large measure of the Kenyan govt's motivations are to regulate and tax these companies. SportPesa reputedly makes very serious amounts of money (and I mean really, very large sums indeed). It needed to be far more sensitive. It thought that as a large employer it may achieve lenient treatment but gambling is despised here.

I am genuinely saddened by this. Our supporters club was founded following Everton's last visit. We already have 60 members and its growing. Periodic games against local sides raised interest in local football as well as in Everton. I was hoping it could continue.

We have up our sleeves plans to donate shirts, food and essentials to poor villages and orphanages. We will continue that work (from our own pockets), but obviously the support from SportPesa has evaporated.

Sadly it looks as if the dominance of the big 6 in popularity here will be re-asserted. East Africa is a big market - 130m people, and has around 20m avid Premier League followers. If Everton had grabbed a 5% share of this, it would have added 1m fans to its base. I estimate at least 100k would have regularly bought club related products, and the club could have added £500k to £1m a year in extra commercial revenues from East African supporters. Thats equivalent to some of smaller ancillary sponsorships the club has landed.

To be clear - the club are not to blame for anything. SportPesa & the Kenyan govt. have had a stand off that has sadly likely ended future visits by the club. More importantly, it has hurt local jobs.


Peter Gorman
7 Posted 30/09/2019 at 07:15:02
Yep Amit, I was indeed thinking about the government taking steps to "curtail addiction to gambling among the country's young people".

I'm saddened that this will impact upon the supporters clubs in East Africa that fans like you have worked hard to set up. Even worse that it'll probably mean no more visits (at least for the time being) and so deny you guys a chance to see the team in the flesh.

But ultimately I'm concerned about the image of the club, not in a Mary Poppins way, but as you say, how this will impact on our fans in Kenya and East Africa.

Paul Johnson
8 Posted 30/09/2019 at 11:20:44
Hi Amit, I lived across east Africa 5 years and being a cynic I don't believe that the Kenyan governments intentions are aimed at not curtailing gambling but in increasing its revenue so that it can line the deep lying pockets of the corrupt politicians across the region.

It really does break my heart the privileged few continually steal from their people.

Ajay Gopal
10 Posted 30/09/2019 at 12:28:46
I had my doubts when this sponsorship agreement was announced by the club. I remember we have a lively thread on TW with lots of opinions on both sides. I was not in favour, because IMO gambling is bad for societies in general, and especially for the poorer sections of society.
Jack Convery
11 Posted 01/10/2019 at 07:38:33
We need to dump this lot asap and get a legit company to sponsor us. The Labour Party have agreed they will ban football clubs from this kind of shirt sponsorship deal. Time to move on.
Eddie Dunn
12 Posted 01/10/2019 at 09:05:09
Big "Gaming" companies are helping to ruin the lives of young people on low pay in this region. Tanzania and Kenya have social problems and these parasites target the vulnerable. I would like them all kicked out of football -and I know there are those on TW who like a flutter, but there needs to be more scrutiny on these firms.

On the one hand, there is a lot of hand-wringing when players (football, rugby, cricket) get involved in spot-betting or match-fixing, but the likes of TalkSport have odds shouted all day long and Paddy Power on regularly, and the good old Beeb even have betting tips.

Colin Callaghan
13 Posted 01/10/2019 at 13:01:39
Everything should be legal.

This sounds like Kenya wants a piece of something they didn't earn. Trying to be “noble” while they line their pockets.

East Africa is a huge market.

Alan J Thompson
14 Posted 01/10/2019 at 15:28:13
This could be an opportunity for Everton's PR Department by offering a Kenyan club a preseason friendly at Goodison Park, sponsorship permitting.
Andy McNabb
15 Posted 02/10/2019 at 03:41:12
So the Kenyan government has pulled the plug on SportPesa.

I have no doubt that regime is hiding behind the 'morality' of betting companies not doing enough to help problem gambling but I will repeat what I have said on other threads — I am ashamed that my club is sponsored by a betting company.

When I originally objected to the sponsor, I was derided on this site by those who said I should lighten up and the extra revenue was needed by Everton. Those comments are made by people who are crassly insensitive or who have no idea of the devastation and life-wrecking consequences of gambling for individuals and their families in every corner of the globe.

And where has this extra revenue got us? Oh yeah — we only lost 1-3 to Man City last time out… and these days that's classed as a positive. We even had more efforts on target at the Man City goal than any other team for several seasons. I bet the blue Mancs are shaking in their shoes at that stat.

I find it difficult to imagine that, if the new ground ever eventuates, large sections of the naming rights will be grabbed by gambling companies. ‘The Ladbrokes Stand’ — says it all, doesn’t it? Whoever cannot see the irony of ‘Lad–broke’ is surely in denial.

And while we are talking of the promised land of a shiny new stadium – find a Spurs supporter this morning and ask them if maybe it wouldn’t have been better last night to be sitting somewhere with an obstructed view.

Now, I’m not suggesting we all just live in a hole and pretend that things will get better by themselves; but in this case, rather than just running after the big boys like some younger sibling, trying to do everything they do but not quite as well, we have a genuine opportunity to do something positive.

Ditch the gambling ad on the shirts or any sort of sponsorship and replace it with 'Save the Children' or something similar – an organsation we then GIVE money to, rather than take from. Think that would make us play any worse? The gap between us and the super-rich is so great, it would not make a scrap of difference but, if we are looking for something that would really put us on the map, THAT sort of gesture would get people talking.

Go on, Everton - buck the trend, I dare you.

Paul Richards
16 Posted 02/10/2019 at 04:21:01
This topic has me somewhat bemused.

As an avowed libertarian, I believe strongly in the freedom of the individual. If that means self-harm results from some wayward behaviours... well, yes, it's problematic. But, at the same time, don't you have to take responsibility for yourself in this world? That is so basic, it surely doesn't even need saying?

Yes, I understand that gambling can become an addiction for some. But are they not folks who are already demonized with "addictive personalities" anyway? Is it not a fundamental character flaw that simply stumbles upon the first (or second, or third) temptation?

Surely it's the same with drugs, prostitution, alcohol, tobacco and firearms. All dangerous, all morally reprehensible. But you can't simply ban them. History shows that. It usually serves only to make things so much worse. (Prohibition, War on Drugs, etc.) It's surely a much better idea to tax the fuck out of them. And lower taxes for the rest of us!

If you are for restricting these things, you are making the state responsible for the failings of individuals. Is it reasonable to require the State to treat, compensate and rehabilitate the miscreants? Often at the expense
of the public purse? I think not.

I think that's the place for voluntary groups to come in with their 12-step programs, invoking a higher power to get vulnerable people through these problems.

Meanwhile, if the gambling promoters like SortPesa are happy to give some of their no-doubt ill-gotten earnings to Everton Football Club, why on earth would we complain? It's like a tax on stupidity that gets us better players (or so the theory goes).

I can see it seems harsh... and maybe I only think this way because I don't suffer such 'weaknesses'? But life isn't easy.

Paul Tran
17 Posted 02/10/2019 at 07:40:27
Blimey, Paul, for a minute there I was finding myself agreeing with a 'libertarian', then you want to impose tax on my punting. Behave!!

Seriously, the issue here is that the newer bookies are targeting people, including kids, with targeted media/social media campaings for introductory offers designed to make it very difficult/complicated to win.

That's what I'd outlaw.

I'm an experienced punter and I avoid them like the plague, but they don't want customers like me, do they?

For me, it would make business sense to seek out a non-bookie sponsorship, as I'm convinced that like with tobacco, gambling sponsorship will be outlawed at some point.

Rob Hooton
18 Posted 02/10/2019 at 08:27:59
I am not saying ban gambling – but ban all the bloody adverts and subliminal messages that go with them.

I never bet more than £2 myself and haven't for a few years now, mainly because we are shite though and I can't bring myself to bet on us to lose!

The Kenyan government are only doing the same as all the others, give us a slice of the pie and we will relax the rules – just like the corrupt wankers running our country.

Andrew McLean
19 Posted 02/10/2019 at 16:36:40
I have never been a fan of betting companies being a sponsor of anyone. I've often wondered if anyone has ever been sponsored by Lego. Or is that considered to be at the other end of hipocrasy?
Rob Marsh
20 Posted 02/10/2019 at 20:28:13
Amit # 6

The club would have done it's research on SportPesa and would have known what they're about. EFC has attached itself shark.

Henry Lloyd
21 Posted 03/10/2019 at 03:27:45
Shirt Sponsorship in this day and age I suppose is necessary, advertising for gambling companies via shirt sponsorship is NOT necessary.

Find somebody else Everton!! I do not give a shit about SportPesa and the problems they have in Kenya!

The first thing I do with a New Everton Shirt (if I cannot buy one without a Sponsor name on it) is Scrape that Sponsor off with a sharp tool and leave only the Detail that matters Everton!

Why do we need to promote Gambling?? SportPesa!! Fuck off!

Jay Harris
22 Posted 03/10/2019 at 04:37:03
I'm not a gambler – never have been, having watched my dad make bookies very rich over my lifetime.

However, the vast majority of punters (I hate that word but it seems appropriate) get a lot of enjoyment out of it. Now I know some get addicted but it's like saying alcohol should be banned because some people become alcoholics.

Banning gambling in any area of the world robs some people of its enjoyment but taxing it to the hilt is just downright corrupt and hypocratic.

Rob Marsh
23 Posted 05/10/2019 at 16:02:05
Jay #22,

If you start winning regularly they treat you as a "special case" and give you short odds or turn their back on you.

The whole business is based on the premise that you lose and keep losing (with the exception of the odd win to keep you interested). The vast (VAST!) majority do lose, it's one of the ills of society and always has been.

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