Football gamblers in Kenya will have to be at the top of their game this weekend as Safaricom undertakes an M-Pesa systems upgrade that will last for 15 hours from Saturday at 10pm to Sunday at 1pm.
This means gamers will only be able to deposit and place their bets before the outage time, failure to which they risk being locked out. Those who use their winnings to bet for more games or pay for other weekend expenses are also set to be affected as they will not be able to withdraw them during this period.
This weekend will see Manchester City settle scores with Liverpool in the English Premier League as wounded Arsenal try to console themselves as they welcome Bournemouth. Everton will battle it out with Tottenham Hotspurs as former EPL Champions Leicester City out to rival the current Champions Chelsea, whereas the two Albions in the EPL Brighton and West Bromwich will measure their might at Falmer Stadium.
To conclude the day in EPL, Stoke City locally known as BebaBeba will face the superheated Manchester United who have not lost any game this season, neither conceded a goal.
Big games that are likely to be affected in Spain’s La Liga include Real Madrid vs Levante, Valencia against Atletico Madrid, Sevilla against 11th placed Eibar while second-placed Barcelona will seek to continue the woes of poorly performing Espanyol.
Locally, Nakumatt will play Posta Rangers as Thika United face Kakamega Homeboyz whilst Coastarians Bandari show their might against Kariobangi Sharks.Ulinzi will defend their honour against Muhoroni youth as Mathare United charge the day with Western Stima. Gor Mahia will finally sweeten the day with Nzoia Sugar.
The above games will all start before 10pm, the time the outage starts. However, some will go late beyond 10pm, meaning that a multi-bet of all the games of the day will have to wait till Sunday at 1pm before withdrawing the winnings.
On Sunday only one game is likely to be affected by the outage, Depotivo La Coruna vs Real Sociedad, which starts at exactly 1pm, the time the outage ends. This means that any person who will not have money in his/her betting account might not be able to ‘invest’ in the La Liga game.
While some of those who place bets have online accounts, majority bet via SMS after loading money on the various mobile money transfer services, particularly M-Pesa.
Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore has previously acknowledged that betting is one of their key revenue streams alongside online shopping. In the past three months of this year, statistics from the Communications Authority indicated that customers transacted Ksh1.1 trillion during the period on mobile money platforms, of which M-Pesa is the market leader.
Pay bill numbers
The major betting firms in Kenya include SportsPesa, Betway, Dafabet and Betin. Most of those who gamble put their stakes in low denomination multi-bets, which in turn have proven lucrative for telecoms thanks to the fees paid to the betting companies’ pay bill numbers.
A previous survey by GeoPoll established that Kenyan youths aged between 17 and 35 years gamble an average of Ksh 5,160 every week on sports, more than their counterparts across the continent.