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Betting firms must promote responsible gaming

Friday August 16 2019

By LETTER
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Football fans are glad that the English Premier League season is back.

The world over, the beautiful game is a unifier. As for betting enthusiasts, it’s time to ‘make money’.

It has however been a difficult period for betting companies as the government seeks to restore order in the industry.

In response, the betting companies, SportPesa to be specific, made true their word by pulling the plug on all sponsorship activities in various sports outfits.

What has however caught my attention the past week as I enjoyed the opening matches of the EPL season is the manner in which betting companies in the UK advertise their products.

Their TV commercials are captivating, different and insightful from what we see from the local industry players. Their campaigns are crafted to advocate for responsible betting.

UNEMPLOYMENT

They urge their customers to set limits for themselves at any given time to avoid going overboard.

Looking at the local scene, betting companies have taken the prime time on our screens to bombard us with enticing information to join their platforms for a quick million.

They employ the very best of content creators who know just what bait to use. Some hire the best influencers and media personalities to push their agenda.

The result, as we have seen, is increased betting appetite among Kenyans whose unemployment rate is above 40 per cent.

The massive growth in the betting industry over the past five years has attracted many players. It is estimated that over 300 betting entities are operating in Kenya.

The effect of betting addiction has been broken homes, idleness, suicides and irresponsible financial decisions due to the glorification of betting as a gateway to wealth.

GUILE

This is not how it should be. Many people are sinking deeper and deeper into debt and wallowing in poverty as they invest every penny to betting as the investors laugh all the way to the bank.

To cover up their actions, betting companies parade their jackpot winners and overnight celebrities in fancy rides.

Many media houses cover the events for all Kenyans to see as the few lucky winners give guided testimonies to motivate the masses that they could be the next winners in line.

As they make these statements, many forget of the losses they have incurred and are encouraged to try put in some stake for the umpteenth time.

Furthermore, the clever use of sponsorship strategies in sport is merely to court public support in promoting corporate social investment.

AWARENESS DRIVE

However, the amounts that they pump into such projects are peanuts compared to what these companies make out of poor Kenyans.

The framing of the sponsorships is also suspect because it is made to look as if ‘only betting firms can support sport’.

I have not yet seen any responsibility awareness campaigns by local betting companies, signalling their quest to reach deeper and deeper into the pockets of Kenyans with the promise of riches that most likely they will never see.

Gambling is a dangerous vice that will bring the country to its knees if not checked.

Many argue that it is the responsibility of the government to provide jobs to the youth and pitting all the blame on the gambling firms is uncalled for, but look at the impact of the betting craze is having on the youth.

Emotional state of those who indulge in betting should be these firms’ number one priority. They would rather have responsible customers who understand the consequences of their actions.

Denis Mbau, Nairobi