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Gambling increasing in Kenya despite measures to curb it

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In the 2019/20 budget proposition, the government proposed  to increase taxes on all betting and gambling activities as a measure to curb the growth of online gambling and betting in the country.

However, according to a media landscape report released by Reel Forge, gambling and betting is still growing tremendously in the country despite efforts by the government to regulate it. Among the top 10 google searches in 2019, those related to gambling and betting take up 7 spots among the top 10.

The remaining three searches that are not related with gambling or betting are ‘Kenya’, ‘News’, and ‘Facebook’. ‘Sportpesa’ is the most searched on google followed by ‘Kenya’ then ‘Livescore’. Livescore is somehow related to betting because it is how most gamblers check on the progress of the matches they have placed bets on.

‘News’ take up the 4th place while another betting platform, BetPawa, is fifth on the list. ‘Facebook’ is sixth with the remaining four spots being taken by searches related to sports gambling. ‘Betin’, ‘Prediction’, ‘Betika’ and ‘Sportpesa login’ come in from 7th to 10th in that respective order. Kenyans search on predictions to get a hint on how matches will turn out before placing bets on the matches.

[Read: A betting addict responds to new tax on bets]

Gambling is however not just leading in google searches alone as the gambling platforms are also among the most advertised on print, broadcast, and social media. Shabiki is leading among betting platforms that hugely spend in advertising.

Shabiki and Sportpesa are the only sports betting platforms leading the advertising big spenders’ chart. Shabiki have reportedly spent Ksh 5.45 billion so far in 2019 on advertising alone while Sportpesa have spent Ksh 2.22 billion. However, Shabiki advertises on its own platform so the real figure is likely to be lower than that.

Other gambling platforms that are not engaged in Sports gambling are also on the chart of big spenders in advertising. Supa 5 leads having spent Ksh 2.8 billion on advertising. Lotto spent Ksh 1.95 billion  on advertising while Tatua tatu spent Ksh 1.65.

[Related: MPs lament of 10% tax on betting]

There has however been a significant drop in the amount of money spent by non sports gambling platforms in advertising. This could either mean that these platforms reached the people they wanted to and had to reduce the amount spent on advertising or the campaign to advertise in bulk was not paying for. In 2018, Tatua tatu and Lotto spent Ksh 5.36 billion and Ksh 4.59 billion respectively on advertising. This amount has dropped in 2019.

The trend of betting and gambling platforms taking up a huge percentage of internet usage has been increasing ever since these platforms came into the market. Kenya has been branded a gambling nation in the past and the number of Kenyans engaging in gambling is constantly increasing.

Most people are motivated to do engage in the vice after seeing an advert where someone has won on the platform. Others are motivated by the huge returns advertised by these platforms with some promising a return of hundreds of millions from just a sh. 100 stake.

With most Kenyans seeing that the winnings are dependent on probability, they stake more money to increase their chances of winning. The vice is still growing in the country as more youths continuously lose money to betting platforms.

[See also: Rotich hits betting industry and boda boda in ambitious budget]


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Kevin Namunwa
Kevin Namunwahttp://www.businesstoday.co.ke
Kevin Namunwa is a senior reporter for Business Today. Email at [email protected].
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