With the arrival of gaming giant Betsson AB into a fractious marketplace it looks as if peace has broken out in Kenya’s highly contentious betting scene.
Betsson has just confirmed its intention to enter Kenyan sports betting in a joint venture with Bet High Ltd.
The move has been underscored by the news that Betsson’s flagship sportsbook subsidiary, Betsafe, has replaced out-of-favour SportPesa as shirt sponsor for Kenya Premier League football clubs Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards.
Betsafe is yet to register its Kenya Betting Control Board licence.
But Betsson has independently confirmed that it will launch Betsafe Kenya through its fully-owned subsidiary Bet High, who will manage Betsafe’s betting and casino licensing requirements.
Betsson has sanctioned Bet High to trade in Kenya under the domain of “Betsafe Ventures”.
The new venture is fully financed by Betsson, who will provide Bet High with fully-loaded tech, platforms and the support to operate the brand.
In 2019 the government of Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta suspended Kenya’s entire sports betting marketplace and suspended the licenses of 27 sportsbooks because of on-going tax disputes with Kenya’s Revenue Authority (KRA).
The KRA instructed all national licensed banks and telecoms to terminate payment and mobile M-PESA wallet services for betting firms.
SportPesa, the then-market leader, retaliated by terminating its gaming action in August 2019.
Looking at SportPesa’s declared numbers, prior to its withdrawal—the equivalent of €200 million in net revenues and operating a business with 450 staff—the outcome looks lucrative for BetSafe in its new East African venture.