The High Court order granting gaming company SportPesa the right to operate is still in force despite the industry regulator’s letter purporting to revoke its license.
SportPesa which is being operated by Milestone Games Limited obtained the order on December 3, 2020, a day before the Betting Control and Licensing Board attempted to cancel the company’s license through a letter.
This means, the company’s paybills – 955100 and 5212121 – are still on despite the regulator’s attempts to shutdown SportPesa’s business.
SportPesa’s domain ke.sportpesa.com is also still operational even as the back and forth over the license persists.
In her ruling, Judge Pauline Nyamweya took issue with the regulator for attempting to stop the company from conducting its business and issuing summons to its directors despite the matter pending before the court.
“The ex parte (Milestone Games) has provided evidence that during the pendency of the stay orders granted herein on 16th November 2020, the respondent has taken further actions on the dispute before this court by its letter dated 24th November 2020,” the judge stated in her ruling.
The betting industry has been hard hit by the regulator’s decisions since 2019, after the government opted to shut down some of the players allegedly over tax and ownership issues. The move has drawn condemnation across various circles that termed it harsh and counterproductive in improving the country’s business environment.
The brand which was previously owned by Pevans East Africa, will remain operational until a matter before the court is heard and determined on January 25, 2021. The BCLB, therefore, risks being in contempt of court if it attempts to shut down the company’s business.
SportPesa which used to sponsor the Kenyan Premier League, Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards among other sports organizations was forced to fire nearly all its staff in November 2019 following the protracted war.
The company has since maintained its innocence after being cleared by the Tax Appeals Tribunal in a matter in which Kenya Revenue Authority had accused it of underpaying tax.
“In the circumstances in order to prevent the abuse of the process of court and in the interest of justice, it is my finding that the extension of the stay orders is merited and justified,” the judge ruled.
In a letter dated November 24, the BCLB had summoned Milestone Games Limited’s Operations Manager Bernard Chauro asking him to show cause why the company’s license should not be cancelled.
SportPesa, a giant betting brand, is at the centre of the dispute that has drawn in the industry regulators and several rivals who aim to stop the use of the name in the local market.
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