On February 22, four lucky Kenyans went home with a total of Sh36,427,566. They had correctly predicted the results of 13 football games and scooped the Sportpesa betting game’s jackpot.
Less than a month earlier, Ms Elimah Khanaista’s life changed dramatically after she bagged a Sh22,049,424 jackpot in the same game. She had correctly predicted the outcome of 13 football games. Upon winning the jackpot, the 27-year-old mother two and her husband declared that the jackpot would go towards building their tea packaging business, Golden Tea.
Although she had been betting and winning smaller amounts prior to bagging the jackpot, Ms Khanaista’s life had not always been as rosy as it would soon become. She had been employed as an operator at an M-Pesa agency, where she was sacked after losing Sh45,000 to a conman. However the betting millions have now radically changed her fortunes.
Since launching in January 2014 with an investment of Sh400 million, Sportpesa has now given out over Sh106 million in jackpot prizes.
Sportpesa is not the only betting platform. Following the proliferation of betting games locally, multiple gambling sites have pitched camps and attracted the attention of many Kenyans.
According to James Njenga, a personal finance expert, football betting has remained the most popular due to its reach and affordability. For instance, to place either a single or multiple bet on Sportpesa, gamblers are required to top up their accounts with a minimum of Sh100.
Currently, some of the most popular sites include Bet-In, Elite BetKenya, Sportpesa, BetWay, M-Cheza, Bet-Yetu, and Just-Bet.
In November last year, Betway gave its first three jackpot winners Sh8,500,000.
Although some Kenyans have reaped millions from gambling, many Kenyans have been as lucky. Take Patrick Kilonzo. Over the past few months, he has lost Sh13,500. “My last loss was a bet of Sh1,200 that I placed on the Real Madrid versus Athletico Madrid derby game. I favoured Real Madrid which lost, taking my cash down the drain,” he says.
However, despite losing his money, Kilonzo says he is not considering quitting betting yet. “You can’t win if you don’t lose. I know I’ll recover from these loses if I keep betting.” In the next one month, he has set aside Sh20,000 from his Sh60,000 monthly salary for betting.
Interestingly, many of those taking part in the betting games consider them as a source of income that they need to work hard in order to earn.
Mr George Mwangi, who in September 2015 bagged the Sportspesa Jackpot of Sh29.5 million, said his win was not a fluke or a guess. He attributed it to hard work, his ability to study and dissect football games, and his commitment to betting.
“Winning or losing is quite hard. It’s not about guess work,” said the 50-year-old former banker and father of three after winning the jackpot.
His sentiments were echoed by Mr Faustine Asenahabi who bagged a Sh10 million Betin jackpot. According to Mr Asenahabi, betting is a form of income tha