HomeMARKETSSMART MONEYAs Kenyans lose billions, gambling firms are growing richer

As Kenyans lose billions, gambling firms are growing richer

Why international investors are eyeing the Kenyan gambling market

The liberalisation of gambling in Kenya has seen the nation surge to the peak, competing with African betting powerhouses, Nigeria and South Africa.

A recent research by PriceWaterhouse Coopers revealed that Kenya has a total of 30 licensed bookmakers, thus raising the annual gross turnover of sports betting industry to over 20 million dollars.

Despite the battle for control between Council of Governors and Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB), it is evident that Kenyans have been taken by the gambling wave. Investors, both foreign and local, are continuing to knock the East Africa doors due to what they term a ‘potential market,’ which saw Kenya host African Sports Betting Summit in Nairobi.
The summit, dubbed ‘perfect entry into the African betting and gambling market,’ brought together investors from all over the world who would like to put their money into the profit-minting sports gaming. “We go where there is potential to foot into in terms of new markets and dynamics,” said Mr Zach Shifren, Marketing Manager for Meridian Worldwide, an international online betting software provider.

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Zach Shifren
Meridian Worldwide Marketing Manager Zach Shifren speaking during the African Sports Betting Summit at the Lyco Regency Hotel, Nairobi, on 24th May 2016. Photo /COLLINS OGUTU

Gambling is getting technologically notch higher as various firms introduce new mechanisms to attract more customers or beat their competitors quite literally. For instance, the inception of live in-play betting has attracted a huge number of customers worldwide while progressive jackpots are the killer punch that every entity is craving for. Even so, customers are believed not to have had enough information regarding their operators.

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“For us to grow, we must start working into new markets, measure the strategies and carry out thorough customer education, which is the pillar to our success,” Zach told Business Today.

Customers, especially in the Kenyan market have often cried foul of dishonesty by the operators, claims that have been denied. Match fixing is also another hindrance to the prosperity of the gaming with players as well as referees occasionally accused of placing bets in matches they directly participate in.

The rapid inception of betting in Kenya has resulted in a series of misfortunes in various extents: including families breaking up whereas some people die form depression.

“Unfortunately, there is little we can do. And that is customer education and encouraging responsible gambling. Anything further than that is a case of a consumer jumping into the fire or not,” he said.

The future of sports betting market is much harder to predict but the precipitation of new entities each day is a clear indication that the competition is getting stiffer. “The summit brings together various operators and regulators in the industry to converse on new trends and setting foot on potential markets where we currently don’t operate,” said Shifren.

Africa is arguably on the rise in gaming with faster growth of internet and mobile penetration. Many companies are also coming up with favourable odds to lure consumers into betting.

Kenyans’ love for football is also a factor with betting firms such as Sportpesa sponsoring a top tier league in the country. “Obviously football is number one, worldwide. People like taking their bets on what they love,” he Shifren.

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