BetLion has launched a betting operation in Kenya, after receiving approval from the Kenyan Betting Control and Licensing Board to enter the country’s $351m online industry.
The Ugandan operator will now provide its mobile-focused product offering to the seven million registered Kenyan bettors, in direct competition with SportPesa, Betway and Betin.
“We are delighted to announce the launch of BetLion in Kenya, it has long been on our radar as a territory that offers great potential,” said BetLion group operations director Peter Stagles.
“There is a betting maturity and understanding here as well as a huge opportunity, particularly through increased smartphone penetration. It’s a great time for us to enter the market with a polished, easy to use product, combined with a tremendous localised knowledge.”
The move comes as part of BetLion’s strategy to enter eight African countries over the next five years, including Zambia and territories in West Africa, backed by British multi-millionaire Victor Chandler.
The online gambling entrepreneur, who was a pioneer of mobile and online betting through his company BetVictor, is reported to be worth $291m, and is one of the shareholders in BetLion’s Kenyan arm, alongside local investors.
Chandler sold BetVictor, currently the official training kit sponsor of English Premier League team Liverpool, in 2014, and has since been a chief investor in betting startups including Punt Group and Bet FC, through the Gibraltar-based Victor Chandler International.
The investment in Kenya follows significant growth for the country’s online gambling market since its regulation as part of the Betting, Lotteries, and Gambling Act in 2012.
The betting industry across the country is now of a significant size to affect governmental decisions, with the widely criticised 35 percent tax rate, enacted on 1 January this year, overturned by the Treasury following opposition from online operators.