Kenya’s betting craze

54 percent of youths in Kenya have tried their hand on betting. In the midst of unemployment and underemployment, the youth continuously find themselves engaging in the betting game where they deposit from as little as Kshs20 to as much as Kshs5,000 per month so as to double or triple their chances of gaining higher earnings and making ends meet in the current tough economy.

Why betting?

Desperation for money has been and remains an underlying cause for gambling among unemployed youths who are financially desperate due to lack of a regular source of income. The urge to earn a living pushes some to gamble away the few coins they have in the hope that they will win big and meet their needs that are ever-demanding. Peer pressure calls the shots among the youths where they influence each other to take part in gambling.

Supporters of gambling say that it aids in sustaining livelihoods in an economy where unemployment is as high as 35 percent. In a society where gambling is promoted in the name of uplifting living standards, more needs to be done to create employment. In as much as there have been some positive gains for some, gambling has had negative and catastrophic results for many who have lost their money to the betting games.

Kenya hosts 23 sport betting firms as of June 2016. As one makes small wins the urge to keep gambling to make bigger wins can lead to debts and financial troubles. Betting is addictive and can hinder how one functions normally. Betting can contribute to anxiety and depression leading to deterioration of productivity at the work place. Such individuals end up losing their jobs and due to depression and unproductivity, they become vulnerable to committing crimes that would see them earn a living. Studies show that 66 percent of gambling addicts will engage in illegal activities to pay for their gambling debts.

Gambling can also lead to divorce especially where one partner is addicted to gambling and spends the family’s financial resources to sustain his or her gambling habit.

The social and economic costs of gambling outweigh its economic benefits to the society. At least five million Kenyans are involved in betting including students like one from Kenyatta University who committed suicide after losing Kshs80,000 meant for school fees.  Another case is of a man in Narok who committed suicide after betting and losing Kshs9,000. Betting can be an alternative source of income, but if you have to bet, remember this rule; don’t invest all your money in betting, bet the amount you can afford to lose!

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