Sport Betting Craze Part 3: Match-fixing fears in SPL
With the betting craze in the country and with many putting millions and even billions into the game, what are the regulators doing to ensure the gamblers are not fleeced and that the people actually know what they are getting themselves into?
In the third and final part of the Sports Betting Craze on Citizen TV, award winning journalist, Waihiga Mwaura delves deeper into the regulations.
Its race day in the rift valley, the Nandi County Half Marathon is about to begin. Vincent Koech, 26, is hopeful of clinching a top three finish and therefore, some good prize money.
The race kicks off at 9am local time (+3GMT) and despite his best of efforts Koech does not nail a top ten after the 21km.
However, seems rather not worried, because he has something to look forward to later in the day, something that could bring him some money, that is, the English Premier League matches where he will be placing in some bets.
“I love betting with SportPesa. Every week when SportPesa is there I do Ksh1500 (USD14.97) because it isn’t hard work. I like it because I can buy things for the house and pay certain bills. I can bet with small money and make some cash back,” the runner says.
Though the upcoming athlete says he is not alone in this sport betting frenzy, some members of the sport betting community who spoke on condition of anonmity are worried about the direction the industry is taking with promises of getting quick rich dominating the airwaves.
John*(not his official name), a sports betting official warns; “What people are saying is that they are going to make people rich which is not correct. There is no way people are going to be rich betting.
“Nobody in this world has ever been rich through gambling. It is possible for you to make money through gambling but the chances of you losing this money through gambling is also very high.”
Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) chairman Anthony Kungu , disagrees and says that the messages being conveyed to the public are not misleading.
“I think we are not taking Kenyans for granted. We are one of the most highly educated populations in Africa and you can’t fool them whether in advertising or in hidden messages.
“We will come up with a code of conduct which will ensure that there is fair play, keeping away crime, misconduct and also there is the issue of money laundering and of course we have to make sure that they are financial sound,” Kungu asserted.
The United Kingdom (UK) Gambling Commission recently released data showing that drug barons are laundering cash via slot machines.
The report further states that more than 600 reports have been filed by UK bookmakers who suspect that their systems have been infiltrated and fixed by criminals in 2016.
“No. It will be easier to monitor on our end because a lot of the transactions are electronic. We shall not allow anyone to get away with crime,” Kungu explains in opining the Kenyan industry has not been infiltrated by criminals.
Tax evasion is a hot topic right now in the betting world as a report from PriceWaterHouseCoopers revealed that betting should be earning up to an estimated Ksh500m (USD4,914,608.67) annually in Value Added and withholding taxes for the State.
Former BCLB chairman Prof. Paul Wambua Musili suggested the betting regulator should do away with withholding tax and introduce a gambling levy which targets the gross revenue of an operator but with a new chairman at the helm, it is unclear which direction the board will take.
Another vice associated with sport betting is match-fixing where impoverished players are eager to make some money for themselves and paymasters to throw games and collect a cut of the winnings later.
“SPL players cannot bet. We have their contacts and we shall block them,” Robert Karauri the CEO, SportPesa claimed.
While Frank Okoth, Operations, Liaison and logistics officer, Kenya Premiere League says, “It would be a dumb thing to do because you have to fix matches in many countries to win the jackpot. That doesn’t make sense.”
Clearly sport betting is on the rise in Kenya and comes with both opportunities and challenges for a largely youthful population. At the end of the day it’s you the consumer who decides on whether or not to place a bet.
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