It is business unusual for betting companies in Kenya as the government moves to end the gambling menace in the country. The Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) has refused to renew the licenses of major firms among them Sportpesa.
On Wednesday, BCLB ordered Safaricom to shut down the pay bill numbers 27 betting companies. The board issued another directive on Friday, asking Kenyans to withdraw their monies within 48 hours.
Whereas the conversation has majorly been on the betting firms whose licenses have not been renewed, we opted to dig deep and find some information on the firms that are still operating in Kenya.
Bet Lion, Mcheza, Kwikbet,OdiBets and Gamemania are some of the lucky firms to have had their licenses renewed. The others are Bet Palace and Betika.
As usual, we also had to get to the bottom of who owns these ‘lucky’ companies. We must admit that it was not easy to find some of the information we were looking for. In the end, our findings were interesting.
MCheza is associated with TV personality Julie Gichuru who is believed to have sunk a whooping Ksh200 million into the firm in 2015 just after resigning from Citizen TV.
Next on the list is OdiBet, a firm that has successfully used memes to build its brand. The betting firm is associated with the former President Mwai Kibaki’s family. Kibaki’s elder son Jimmy Kibaki is the chairman of OdiBets.
The company caused a sensation is 2018 after signing a Ksh 60 million three-year shirt sponsorship deal with Premier League side, Mathare United, saving it from its financial woes. On its website, OdiBets Kenya indicates it operates the OdiBets brand, which is licensed to Kareco Holdings Limited.
Apart from all the seven companies that have acquired the trading license, stands Shabiki betting firm. The company which has garnered publicity from the leading broadcast house in Kenya, Royal Media which runs Citizen TV, Radio Citizen and dozen vernacular radio stations is solely owned by Royal Media boss and businessman SK Macharia
Macharia launched the betting bandwagon in 2017. Royal Media Services, owned under S.K. Macharia and his family, became the first media house to enter the sports betting arena as an independent gaming service provider.