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State should ban gambling business once and for all

Friday July 19 2019

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In February, a middle-aged Kenyan man committed suicide following English football club Arsenal’s loss to Bate Borisov of Belarus. The man identified as Duncan had accumulated Sh60,000 from his business when he thought it would yield through the Arsenal game. Villagers in his Kakemega County home found his lifeless body hanging from a tree.


In December last year,  the body of a 25 year-old-man was found in a borehole in his homestead a day after his family reported him missing. The deceased whose name police gave as Samuel Oswea was found in a three three-foot borehole by his neighbours in Komu village, Kiganjo location, after a betting mission went sour.

The wife said her husband was a betting fanatic and had recently taken to Facebook seeking for advice on ways of committing suicide.

Two years ago, the decomposing body of 32-year-old Kennedy Rotich,  who had gone missing a week earlier, was found dangling from a tree in Samburet forest near Satellite area in Kericho County. The deceased’s friend and neighbour claimed that Rotich had fallen into debt and owed several people money and could have resorted to suicide to avoid his debtors. Rotich had resorted to engaging in the local sports gambling craze, only for the chances of winning to prove elusive.

In 2016 a, university student committed suicide in Migori County after losing a football bet. The student's body was discovered hanging at his family's home in Uriri area with a suicide note explaining the action.



According to the note, the Kenyatta University student decided to take his life after losing Sh80,000 meant for school fees which he had staked on a UEFA Euro 2016 match between Germany and Italy. The student reportedly split the money two ways. In one bet, he placed Sh40,000 for an Italy win and staked the remainder on Germany win.

The game which ended in a draw in normal time meant that the student had lost both bets hence losing the whole amount meant for his tuition fee. He left behind a note indicating that the money he was given to pay college fees had disappeared in betting and he saw no need of living.

A year earlier, in October 2016 a third-year student at Egerton University in Njoro committed suicide after he allegedly lost a bet. Fellow students and lecturers woke up to the shocking incident after they found the student's body dangling from the roof of the graduation pavilion. A worker at the university said it was suspected the student opted to commit suicide after failing to win a sports bet. The student had allegedly placed a bet of Sh40,000.

A similar incident happened in Bungoma where a man hanged himself after losing Sh47,000 in sports betting.


In a related incident, a student from Maseno University dropped out of school when he bet and lost Sh40, 000 on a football match.

Another man working in Nairobi as a bank manager was also left by his wife after he bet and lost Sh500,000 which was said to be a loan.

These incidents alone, without other sideshows like payment of taxes and all, are serious enough to jolt any government into action against those promoting the business of gambling. We need not wait for another life to be lost before taking the decision that we, as a society, must take at some point. There cannot be any justification for a business that kills, legal or otherwise.

It is, in fact, time the government spared the nation the theatrics of trying to find excuse after excuse of sending the lords of death away and just declare gambling forbidden. We can take care of the legalities later, but we must be alive to do that.

Mr Alikhula comments on topical issues