The soccer betting mania has for several years gripped millions of Kenyans in a deadly addictive stranglehold. Wreaking havoc to the lives of thousands daily losers in the bets made as it brings happiness and more addiction to others winning.
It has increasingly become a deadly incurable addiction worse than drugs, cigarettes and alcohol. A cancerous sore that is daily attracting millions like flies to the festering sores of the cancer – to win cash on soccer.
Every day, every morning the millions across the country both women and men from cities all the way to the villages wake up dreaming of nothing but betting. The worst hit group are the youths, mostly school leavers, students, the jobless (even the employed) aged between 15 to 40 years.
The mobile phone has become the epicenter and lifeline of their daily lives. It must stay charged with power all the time to effect their daily soccer betting transactions. Others who can access the internet on the computer, it has taken the same role.
A way of life to which the betters have become virtually enslaved in total addiction. Monitoring intensely religiously fiercely closely with near fanaticism that the radio, the newspapers, the television, the internet and all manner of soccer information have to report concerning which soccer teams are going to play where and when – not in Kenya but all over the world.
The critical issue being which team will be pitted against which, the players, the locations of the games…name it so that they can place their bets in hard cash thanks to the available immediate seconds monetary transfer services in their hands.
Ironically the huge volume of the betting activities involving hundreds of millions of shillings in daily even hourly transactions does not focus on Kenyan, East African and African soccer teams. They are all foreign that get first priority with local teams placed last as consideration in the maniacal fever continues to take wider ground in entrenching itself.
The most favoured are the soccer teams playing in the European League, the English Premier League, the German Bundesliga, the Spanish La Liga or Primero, the French Premier… and it goes all the way to un-known countries scattered in various parts of the world in Europe, Asia, South and North America amongst many others.
The monies involved starts with as little as Kshs. 50 through Kshs. 1000 to hundreds of thousands depending on one’s personal ability to cough out the betting cash, the frequency to do it and the number of the teams on which to peg their bets.
It is from this cancerously spreading craze phenomenon that sports betting companies have also erupted on the market equally with a fever to cash in on the mania. The eruption of agents and brokers have not been spared from the fray to make a killing. They can all be found in every corner, nook and cranny of the country’s cities and their residential estates, villages, trading centers and all manner of social groupings or gatherings especially video halls.
Many photocopying places virtually every market centre are also making a killing by photocopying and selling the daily football fixtures that are published in the daily newspapers where the betters can go and buy the copies photocopied from the newspapers to enable them determine on how they are going to place their bets.
The situation has become so bad to the extent that it has become extremely risky to entrust students with cash to go and pay at school or in colleges, since there are increasing cases where the students end up using the fees cash on betting and in the process losing therefore throwing the burden back to their parents and benefactors.
Marriages have not been spared where mostly men end up using all the cash they can access on betting including even that meant for domestic budgets and in the process losing and putting their families in perpetual financial distress.
Some of the leading companies that have erupted into the betting business is the leading and most popular SportsPesa which is also considered by thousands of betters across the country as the most reliable, effective and efficient with their transactions.
SportsPesa that is reportedly wholly Kenyan owned is not just known as a channel for the soccer betters to bet, but has also emerged as a leading sponsor of the country’s oldest and leading soccer clubs like Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards.
That notwithstanding the company has also struck a major Kshs. 607 million sponsorship deal with the Kenya Union of Rugby (KUR) that will see the country’s international rugby champions the Super 7s benefit from the windfall. KUR’s boss Richard who is very excited about the development confirmed the same and gave challenges to Kenya Airwyas their other supports to increase their stake.
This has since been confirmed the company’s Chief Executive Ronald Karauri who also confirmed that SportsPesa is also sponsoring the Kenya Premier League (KPL), the Football Kenya Federation(FKF) among others.
The story does not stop there since the latest reports are indicating that the company has extended its sponsorship to football clubs beyond Kenya’s borders into Europe which is already raising a storm to the country’s soccer lovers.
However, it should also be considered that most of the revenue that is being generated to the company’s financial coffers is coming from the millions of shillings that Kenyans are betting everyday on matches pitting European soccer clubs through its benevolence.
Apart from the normal winnings on bettings over the daily soccer fixtures, there are also hefty sums of money that are on offer to be won by the betting fanatics topped with a jackpot of Kshs. 17, 053, 945.
The other company which is on the betting market is Betway Kenya whose jackpot is pegged at Kshs. 13, 500, 000, Betin Kenya with jackpots ranging from between Kshs. 20 to 40 million, Mcheza whose jackpot is listed as Kshs. 17, 114, 151.
Details about most of these companies and who or what they are sponsoring are still scanty but they rarely miss to carry adverts in virtually all the local dailies detailing about the soccer fixtures in Europe and the monies to be won including how to get aboard the betting activities.
It goes without saying the mobile telephone companies in the country offering money transfer services are also making a killing in this annual multi-billion shillings business since their money transfer services are the ones playing a central role in the entire betting transactions.
That is those throwing in their bets after choosing their favourite soccer teams have to pay through money transfer their respective amounts of cash they are wagering on their choice teams and when they win the monies they have won is also send to them the same way.
The market survey has shown that the greatest beneficiary of these transactions is the leading mobile telephone services provider Safaricom, but exactly how much is involved on a daily basis especially weekends when the bettings peak is not yet known including how much the money transfer services providers rake in.
It is perhaps from this background and the general feeling that the current legislation on betting is being abused that the Members of Parliament are already considering reviewing this legislation to include stiffer amendments to the law.
What is not clear is whether the proposed amendments to the betting law is also going to target millions of Kenyans who are getting hooked to the practice as individuals or the operations of the companies that are proliferating into the market to cash in in the highly lucrative business.