After a short government-mandated hiatus, Kenya’s top sports gambling company, SportPesa, is back in business. The company, as well as all others, were forced by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to suspend their operations after the government decided to rewrite its tax codes midstream, causing the operators to suddenly be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars. The KRA has now given SportPesa its license back, allowing it to go about its business.
SportPesa announced the relaunch in a statement, explaining, “Sportpesa has been engaging stakeholders on the current licensing issue. Our sessions with regulators and government are targeted towards creating a better understanding of the gaming industry with the view of creating a shared perspective on related regulation, including tax administration.
“There has been notable progress in these sessions and we are pleased to announce that Kenya Revenue Authority have now cleared us to have our license renewed. SportPesa is confident that these processes will be completed soon allowing the company to resume full operations.”
Kenya recently changed how it interpreted the tax code related to gambling, forcing the 20% tax to be considered on the gross amount wagered, not on what was won. Operators like SportPesa and Betway suddenly found their licenses suspended by the Betting Control and Licensing Board, and Betway was one of the first to get back in the game after the KLA determined that it was in compliance.
SportPesa adds in its statement, “We recognize the support of our employees, customers and key stakeholders in this process and will be communicating soon on when we will be commencing operations. As Sportpesa, we reaffirm our commitment to supporting the government’s economic development agenda by operating as a law-abiding business that is committed to tax compliance.”
It’s possible that SportPesa realized it was fighting a losing battle. When the tax drama started, it tried to take its case to court, but a judge just ruled that it didn’t have much foundation for claiming injustice. Now that the operators are letting their initial tantrums subside and getting back to business, they’ll put everything in order at least until Kenya’s president decides to ban gambling.