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Sportpesa return flops after betting regulator blocks use of trade name - VIDEO

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SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Betting Control and Licensing Board stops Milestone Games Limited from operating under the popular Sportpesa gaming brand.
  • Sportpesa was the most popular betting firm in the country and its license was revoked in October last year after it was accused of not paying taxes running into Sh15.1 billion.

The Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) has stopped Milestone Games Limited from operating under the popular Sportpesa gaming brand, saying the trade name has been appropriated from its rightful owner Pevans East Africa Limited.

The decision issued on Friday unveiled major intrigues in the industry, coming the same day that Sportpesa chief executive Ronald Karauri announced the return of the brand under “a new BCLB license holder.”

“According to information in our possession, the tradename ‘Sportpesa’ belongs to M/s Pevans East Africa Limited. The said company has filed an appeal in the Court of Appeal in Nairobi no. 471 of 2019. The matter before the Court of Appeal contests the issuance of the gaming license to Pevans East Africa t/a Sportpesa. The matter is scheduled to be heard on November 16, 2020,” BCLB chairman Cyrus Maina wrote to Milestone’s operations manager Bernard Chauro on Friday.

“You are therefore prohibited from using the trade name ‘Sportpesa’, domains www.ke.sportpesa.com, www.sportpesa.co.ke, short codes 29050 and 79079, Pay Bill numbers 521521, 9555700 and 955700 until such a time when the Court of Appeal shall make a determination on the pending appeal and until the Board considers your request to use them.”

The regulator said Milestone is free to continue trading as “Milestone Bet”, through the domains www.milestonebet.co.ke, www.milestonegames.co.ke, and www.milestonegames.com.

Mr Maina added that the decision to ban Milestone from using the Sportpesa brand name and technological infrastructure was made to avoid confusion among the general public.

“The reason being that there is a variance in the trade name the board approved vis-à-vis the name Milestone Games Limited currently wishes to adopt,” he said.

Sportpesa was the most popular betting firm in the country and its license was revoked in October last year after it was accused of not paying taxes running into Sh15.1 billion.

Milestone’s move to ride on Sportpesa brand and platforms is seen as a bid to access the more than 12 million customers in the database. Mr Karauri’s announcement was greeted with enthusiasm on online forums.

The regulator noted that Milestone has been authorised to use the Sportpesa trademark by Sportpesa Global Holdings, a company which shares directors with Pevans East Africa.

The intrigues signal  a fallout among the founders and sponsors of the popular gaming platform.