- Thousands of young Kenyans are addicted to gambling.
- The government’s refusal to renew the licences for some betting companies comes at a time when many individuals are addicted to betting and have turned it into an income-generating activity.
- Advances in technology have made it easier to bet.
- Isaac Maweu, a counselling psychologist, classifies gambling as a process addiction like pornography.
In probability, if you toss a coin, you cannot get a head and a tail at the same time. It is one or the other, a gamble. This is what betting is about — you win or lose, there is no middle ground.
Yet, thousands of young Kenyans are addicted to gambling. A GeoPoll report in 2017 shows that the country has the highest number of gamblers in sub — Saharan Africa, with sports betting the most popular form of gambling. Further, 40 percent of low-income consumers are unemployed and 29 percent are students.
The government’s refusal to renew the licences for some betting companies comes at a time when many individuals are addicted to betting and have turned it into an income-generating activity.
Is it the allure of quick riches?
Abigail Khamati, 32, has been betting for the last four years and the government’s move has left her without a stable source of income. She acknowledges that betting is her biggest hustle and yes, the thought of making instant riches excites her.
“I depend on what I get from betting to meet most of my expenses, say house rent and other personal needs,” she says. “Using the money earned from gambling, I was able to start a side hustle — selling men’s clothes.”
Although she is addicted to betting, she is quick to defend herself as a responsible gambler.
“I am a football fan. My favourite team is Arsenal and I started betting because I realised that I was good at predicting the outcome of football matches. What began as a pastime became a good source of income,” she offers.
“It derives some attributes from business; you have to be resilient and willing to take risks. I spend Sh10,000 to Sh 20,000 every weekend. I decided to bet only on weekends because that is when there are more matches and I can concentrate fully.” she says.
“Should I lose a game, I take a break, say one day, then start betting again. Last year, I lost more than Sh100,000 but also made more than that. At one time, I placed a Sh1,500 bet and won Sh 80,000,” she offers.