The recent government directive to restrict the activities of betting firms is a mere tip of the gigantic betting iceberg that has invaded all classes of people in our society. Last year alone betting companies spent over Ksh6 billion in advertisements and SportPesa, a key player in the industry, raked in over $1 billion (Ksh100 billion).
Imposing limitations on operations of betting firms without addressing the issues underlying the continuous explosion of betting addiction is a drop in a ragging ocean. Here are five approaches that can be used to tackle the betting menace (and how to deal with betting addiction) before it becomes a national disaster.
Self Financial Discipline
People engage in all forms of betting on the mistaken belief that on average wins and losses may end up giving them a profit. Contrary to this seductive belief, people lose more money than they gain. Others begin and continue to borrow money even from the current online lending apps and eventually sink deeper into untold debts. At a personal level, people should appreciate the financial strain, time wastage and health consequences of betting and stop it.
Betting Reduction Strategy
Betting, such as the football one, begins as a leisurely way of whiling away the football season but gradually becomes a habit concluded into an irreversible addiction. At addiction stage, people are unable to control their betting urges even after they wipe out all their money and other assets.
On the health side, betting causes loss of sleep and uncalled for migraines due to anxiety over both losing and winning. To reduce the number of citizens who are likely to graduate into betting addicts, the Department of Social Services should develop and implement a national betting reduction strategy.
Strengthen Betting Board
A variety of betting platforms are administratively licensed and controlled by the Betting Licensing and Control Board (BLCB) whose mandate does not include addressing the social consequences of betting. BLCB operates like a liquor manufacturer or a cigarettes maker who does not warn consumers of the grave dangers of excessive participation in betting.
It seems not to mind the misleading content on betting advertisements that is aimed at hoodwinking the unsuspecting citizenry. Before we mature to become a nation of gamblers, there is need to review the 1966 betting legislation. The mandate of BLCB should be broadened to include education on gambling and vetting betting marketing materials.
Societal Collective Responsibility
Kenyans possess ingenious ways of responding to conspicuous social evils that threaten the dignity of vulnerable people. But they turn a blind eye on silent killers such as gambling that destabilizes people at individual and family levels. Religious institutions assume that their followers are not strong fanatics of gambling beyond spiritual nourishment.
Both educational and higher learning institutions are quiet about betting while cases of students using tuition fees to bet are rampant. The betting pandemic requires a collective social responsibility for control before we think of starting and running national and county betting rehabilitation centres.
Review Betting Legislation
A casual walk around government premises shows signs posts of “corruption free zone”. People who smoke cigarettes have been cordoned into secluded public smoking cubicles. The police are armed with alcohol breathalyzers to nub drunk drivers. Going by these examples and the tight legislative reviews that liquor and cigarettes have been subjected to, time is ripe to turn undivided attention to overhauling the existing betting and related legislation.