Home » Kenyan court freezes Ronald Karauri’s SportPesa license amid ownership tussle

Kenyan court freezes Ronald Karauri’s SportPesa license amid ownership tussle

by Eduardo C. Serrano

A high court sitting in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city, has stopped the use of the SportPesa brand in Kenya’s gaming business as part of the continuing ownership battle between shareholders in Pevans East Africa, the defunct holding company of SportPesa.

The suspension of SportPesa’s license was issued by Justice Anthony Ndung’u, and it comes nearly a month after the gaming platform, through Milestone Games, obtained a license from the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) to use the SportPesa brand until June 2023.

Karauri also relaunched the sports betting brand, prompting legal action from partners, most notably Asenath Wachera Maina, the largest Kenyan stockholder in the defunct holding company, who accused Karauri of an illegal takeover through Milestone Games.

Anthony Ndung’u said that it was prudent to suspend the license pending the outcome of the court battle over SportPesa ownership, claiming that it would be rendered ineffective if other shareholders, such as Maina, were unable to recoup Milestone Games’ earnings for using the brand if her case was successful.

SportPesa is a leading sports news and betting technology company with operations in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Nigeria, Italy, Ireland, and the Isle of Man. It was initially launched by Pevans East Africa, the now-defunct holding company that pioneered betting in Kenya.

Pevans East Africa ceased operations in 2019 after losing its license for alleged non-payment of taxes totaling Ksh95 billion ($806.5 million) and concerns about increased gambling addiction.

The SportPesa brand was relaunched by Milestone Games, a group controlled by Ronald Karauri and other investors linked to Pevans East Africa, the defunct holding company that pioneered betting in Kenya through the SportPesa brand.

Under the leadership of Ronald Karauri, SportPesa has grown into a global gaming company with more than 500 employees and offices in six countries since it began operations in Kenya more than six years ago, with plans for rapid expansion into new territories.

Paul Ndung’u, a Kenyan businessman and executive, recently filed a lawsuit to join the ongoing court case to determine control over assets related to SportPesa, including the trademark and Web domains.

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