SportPesa and Pambazuka in court over Sh109m betting claim

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Sportspesa CEO Ronald Karauri

Leading sports betting company SportPesa and the defunct Pambazuka lottery have been sued by a man claiming to have won more than Ksh100 million in a jackpot draw held in July last year.

Mr John Friendrich says his bet for the Pambazuka National Lottery on 26th July 2017, in which he made six correct predictions and power ball number as required by the playing rules, won Sh109, 234,886, which was never paid to him.

Friendrich, described in court papers as a Kenyan and resident of Nairobi, claims he opened an account with SportPesa, listed as first defendant in the case, through its website and used the account to participate in various betting games and lotteries. SportPesa runs various sports betting games hosted by the Pambazuka National Lottery (PNL), which is the second defendant in the case.

In a case filed at the High Court in August last year by Odindo and Company Advocates, Friendrich reveals that on July 26, he  played Pambazuka lottery, which had two draws weekly – one each on Wednesday and Sunday. Under the lottery, players were required to predict six correct numbers and an additional number called the power ball number to be declared winner.

Friendrich says on this day at 17:44 hours, he purchased a Pambazuka National Lottery single ticket number PNL CODE 49A1EH4KAS for the Mzooka Jackpot and placed his bet, which was accepted on the same date. He then made predictions of the six numbers and the power ball pick as 14,22,33,40,41,44/1. “The second defendant declared its results on the 1st defendant’s website whereat the plaintiff’s predictions tallied those of the second defendant,” Friendrich’s lawyers say.

But SportPesa and Pambazuka National Lottery failed to communicate to him regarding his predictions and declared results, which tallied “notwithstanding that they accepted his bet and closed the draw as per their terms and conditions.”

Friendrich bases his case on what his lawyers say was failure by the two to declare that the plaintiff’s predictions were tallying with the declared results. Pambazuka, they argue, failed to reward Friendrich’s predictions, which, as it were, tallied with the declared results and announce him as winner of the Jackpot Power Ball draw of July 26 2017.

The lawyers say the two betting companies acted fraudulently by refusing to award Friendrich as winner of the draw with the prize of Ksh109, 234,886.

Documents filed in court show that Friendrich had unsuccessfully tried to claim the prize which the defendants have “rejected, ignored and/or flagrantly refused to make good” despite being served with intention to sue.

Friendrich says that due to these conducts and or omissions, he has suffered immense loss and damage both physical, psychological and financially. He is suing for the prize money, general damages, costs and interest on these until payment in full.

Pambazuka, which closed operations, was run by Bradley Ltd. In its closing statement, it said it would pay all winners of its lotteries.

When his predictions won, Friendrich says, he called SportPesa the following day to let them know his predictions had tallied. He says SportPesa agreed he had won the draw and provided a contact number at Pambazuka, where he talked to an agent called Brian who, after consulting, informed him that his bet was not for the Wednesday draw.

But in statement filed in court by Bradley on October 30 2017, the company denies Friendrich bought any ticket to participate in the draw and seeks proof of the transaction. It says the defendant did not make any predictions for the draw. Through Muchoki Kangata Njenga and Company Advocates, Bradley claims the plaintiff never won the prize and describes the suit as a “fraudulent scheme intended to enforce a fictitious claim.”

The lawyers say Friendrich may have purchased the ticket after the close of the draw in question, which was then valid for the next draw. Bradley says notification is made only to valid winners and since Friendrich wasn’t notified, “he neither won nor participated” in July 26th draw.

SportPesa, for its part, says it was merely an agent of Pambazuka in selling tickets and denies publishing the results of the draw as claimed.