Gamblers seek alternatives after Gov’t shuts down betting companies


Gamblers seek alternatives after Gov't shuts down betting companies
An online bet player holds a mobile phone as he bets at a betting house in Ladipo district, in Lagos, Nigeria, June 6, 2018. Picture taken June 6, 2018.

In Summary

  • Even as the top sites in the country like SportPesa and Betin are among 27 betting firms whose licences have been revoked and their directors ordered out of the country, gamblers are undeterred and have sought other platforms.
  • The Ministry of Interior on July 10, 2019 suspended pay bills and short-codes belonging to 27 betting firms who by the government account failed to abide by all the license renewal requirements.

Kenyans continue to actively engage in betting activities even on the back of the ongoing freeze on the majority of gambling firms.

Even as the top sites in the country like SportPesa and Betin are among 27 betting firms whose licences have been revoked and their directors ordered out of the country, gamblers are undeterred and have sought other platforms.

“Betting has really supported me and my kin; I started out in high-school where I staked my pocket money. I have always exercised moderation and hence only seek out a sound return on my wager by taking low risks,” Brian a devoted gambler in Embakasi told Citizen Digital.

“Having just finished school I expect betting to continue supporting my expenditure as I seek for a job placement.”

The case of Brian is the same for many a youth, as the majority are unemployed or fancy their chances to boost their earnings through betting.

Even so, the remaining alternatives can only accommodate so many gamblers talking of site crashes and delayed reimbursements on winnings.

With fears on the survival of the multi-billion dollar industry, gamblers have opened up to the possibility of holding offshore accounts which, unlike their domestic counterparts, would sit well beyond the view of the State’s prying eyes.

“You have to be smart. If the betting impasse continues, you should see a rush to the overseas betting markets. We have platforms such as Skrill, Neteller and PayPal which allow for the easy conversion of funds into foreign denominations through mobile wallets. I, for one cannot stop betting and will by all means try. With no job in the meantime, how will I pay my rent or feed myself?” posed Brian.

The Ministry of Interior on July 10, 2019 suspended pay bills and short-codes belonging to 27 betting firms who by the government account failed to abide by all the license renewal requirements.

While the move has been discretely termed as a silent crackdown on betting in the country, a recent study by Geopoll and Ipsos Synovate has established the continued fruition of the ‘vice’ after the government crackdown.

Kenyans aged between 18-29 have continued to place bets at an average Ksh.1550 on any given month, per person.

About 27 of the affected firms saw a freeze on the renewal of licenses following a lapse of the July 1, 2019 deadline which sort to have the companies comply to sector regulations including tax obligations to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).

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Story By Kepha Muiruri
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