A proposed sale agreement between global independent bookmaker Betfred and South African gambling operator Sepels Sportsbet is making headlines

On April 11, 2022, an article was published that suggested Sepels Sportsbet may not hold the 12 gambling licenses they claim to have. Since Sepels Sportsbet now intends to sell those licenses to Betfred as part of a R100 million deal, the Gauteng Gambling Board is stepping in. They will spare no effort in ensuring the lawfulness of the transaction. 

The Discrepancy

The gambling licenses in question were issued not to Sepels Sportsbet but were issued to its original founder, Cyril Sepel. 

The challenge lies with the fact that Sepel is deceased. This means the licenses now rest with the deceased estate. The estate has proved unsuccessful in transferring those licenses to Sepels Sportsbet. 

Glen Sepel, son of Cyril Sepel, and executor of his father’s estate has been approached for comment. However, Cyril Sepel was unwilling to discuss how the deceased estate had managed to legally transfer the licenses from his late father’s name to the company. 

A local SA newspaper approached Morne Pieterse, who is the head of Betfred’s operations in South Africa. According to Pieterse, Betfred is aware of the allegations, and will soon launch its own investigation. 

The Gauteng Gambling Board, too, is aware of the allegations. A member of the board told IOL that the board will not tolerate any unlawful conduct or “shortcuts”. According to the spokesperson, who asked to remain anonymous, while Pieterse claimed that the transaction does not require approval by the Competition Commission of South Africa, this remains to be decided by the board. 

The board member also stressed that the Gauteng Gambling Board is considered an “accountable person”. This is per Section 34 of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act. As such, the board has a duty to report any transaction thought to have fraudulent ties or elements to the Hawks. 

Argument Over Approvals

As one of South Africa’s top betting operators, Sepels Sportsbet reportedly saw gross gaming revenue of around R100 million in 2021 alone. Therefore, the transaction will need approval by the Competition Commission. 

According to Johannesburg-based lawyer Ulrich Roux, whenever a global buyer acquires a local gaming enterprise, and the gaming revenue exceeds R100 million, the transaction must be approved by local regulators. 

The newspaper claims to be in possession of information that indicates that Betfred has offered to pay Sepels an amount of more than R100 million.

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