This week, Kenya’s interior ministry ordered for the deportation of 17 foreign directors of betting companies.
The deportation order is the latest action by the Kenyan government, which in May introduced new gambling regulations, including banning advertising outdoors and on social media.
Kenyans who maintain mobile wallets or accounts with betting firms through telecommunications companies have since been given 48 hours to withdraw all their money.
Betting offers an opportunity for young people to make the money that they want. .
Restriction of licensing and operations of betting companies have been implemented in other East African nations including Uganda and Rwanda.
Betting over which sports team might win is big business in Kenya, Africa and across the world. By 2022, the global gambling market could be worth $635 billion, according to findings by Dublin-based Research and Markets. In Kenya alone, the industry generates $2 billion every year.
In many cities, towns and villages across Africa, one can vividly witness the growth of lotteries, poker, sport bets, slot machines, casino games, and online gambling.
Critics of betting say it erodes the urge to work and quickly traps its participants into a destructive cycle of addiction. Authorities in Kenya are also investigating the possibility that betting companies have been facilitating money laundering.
Those who support betting on the other hand argue that it is a recreational activity that gives unemployed young people safe spaces to channel their energies, while at the same time providing governments revenue through paying taxes.
To help us get perspective on the betting industry across the continent, we spoke to Ayishatu Zakaria Ali, a journalist who has extensive experience in how the sports sector operates in many West African countries.
How easy is it to place a bet today?
Betting offers an opportunity for young people to make the money that they want. All a youth needs to have is a smartphone or walk in physically into one of these betting company stores, and they can make money.
Why is government not happy with betting companies?
They think betting is making the youth of their countries lazy because they don’t want to work, and then as a government, if the youth of your country are lazy, its worrying, you have to be worried, because the rate of unemployment is very high.
Do you believe betting firms should take more responsibility in mitigating addiction and other negative effects of their activities?
I don’t actually blame them. I actually blame the countries, I actually blame the government, lawmakers, and then parents to a certain extent, for actually allowing their children, citizens to be abused in this way. And then, the people themselves, the youth themselves, they have to hold themselves responsible for actually getting addicted to this. You can’t blame the betting companies because they are here to make money, and they have since discovered that the laws in most of these countries don’t work, so they are taking advantage of that to make money.
Are there ways in which governments can work towards a win-win approach in the regulation of betting companies?
When they work together, they stand a chance. If for example a telecommunications company can send a signal to law enforcers each a time someone who is underage attempts to bet, and that person can be blocked from betting. In this case, government wins because the one who is above 18 years is allowed to bet, while the one who is below 18 can’t bet. So, in this way, government is protecting its citizens from the addiction that we are talking about, from becoming lazy because a child who is below 18 has no business going to bet. At that age, one should be thinking about their education, and drawing a plan for one’s life.@danmumbere