A study conducted on July 12-14 by research firms Geo poll and Ipsos Kenya on youth revealed that Kenyans between ages 18 and 29 years spend an average of Kshs 1550 on betting per month. The survey also showed that 73 percent of surveyed Kenyans, who were male, aged between 25 and 34years were aware of the recent ban on betting by the government. Kenyan mobile based sports betting industry has in the recent past recorded phenomenal growth attributed to the ease of placing bets online via mobile phone platforms like M- Pesa. According to a research conducted by Amani Mwadime from the United States International University Africa (USIU), on Sports betting in Kenya, majority of the individuals engaging in sports betting are male below 40years. In addition, their biggest source of income is salaries, indicating that employed individuals had a higher probability of engaging in sports betting more than entrepreneurs and unemployed individuals.
Sports betting and mobile money have become codependent. Indeed, sports betting has enabled the growth of mobile money. This is because many people who bet rely on these mobile money platforms to place their bets. The seamless integration of mobile money wallets and sports betting platforms, reliability and consistency, ease of use and ease of access to mobile money is what has been a major enabler of sports betting.
From Geo Poll Survey Reports, Kenya has the highest number of youth engaged in gambling in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA).The 2017 Geo Poll study observed that gambling was becoming popular particularly among males in SSA due to their high affinity towards sports and technology, combined with the proliferation of local sports betting players and the convenience of the mobile phone as a tool of gambling.
Negative Effects of Sports Betting
According to an article for Quartz Africa by Abdi Latif Dahir in the year 2017, gambling addiction was found to have been on the rise in Kenya leaving young people broke and suicidal. Researchers warned about the compulsive nature of gambling and lack of proper safeguards to thwart underage gambling. On 10th July, the Kenya Betting Control and Licensing Board ordered telcos to shut down pay bill numbers and short codes of 27 betting companies whose licenses were yet to be renewed. The order by Kenya’s Betting Control and Licensing Board, contained in a letter dated July 10, sought to shut down a multibillion shilling industry that had been on the roll.
In conclusion, putting the positive and negative effects and the economic implications aside, Kenya is currently heavily indebted. Therefore, Kenya cannot turn a blind eye to the profitable nature of the betting industry because despite the ban, research has proven that young people are still betting and using Ksh1550 per month which is not currently being taxed. Coordinating with the betting company and creating a good relationship will instead generate revenue for this country. Right now no one can be considered a winner in this tussle.