S.K. Macharia, Royal Media Services founder. The company has ventured into the lucrative gaming industry.

Royal Media Services (RMS) has jumped onto the sports betting bandwagon by launching its own service. The leading broadcast house in Kenya – which runs Citizen TV, Radio Citizen and dozen vernacular radio stations – is running its gaming under the brand Shabiki, which covers popular football leagues across the world.

Shabiki has entered the fray at a time when gaming has gained popularity, and over five companies already in play. The new entrant will be up against main player SportPesa, which recently paid out a mega jackpot of Ksh221 million to one individual and regularly dishes out millions in jackpot.

The other players in the market include Betin, Elitebet, Betway, Bet Yetu, Dafabet and Mcheza. There are also betting sites which include: Lucky2u, Kenya Sports Bet, Eazi Bet, Just Bet, Gaming International, BetPawa, Goldbet Kenya and Uwezo Bet.

SportPesa has the lion’s share of the market and Royal Media will be hoping to use the wide reach of its radio, TV and digital platforms to attract players to its side. Media companies are known to run or partner with lotteries, with Standard championing Lotto while Nation Media promotes Pambazuka.

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Royal Media Services, owned by S.K. Macharia and his family, has become the first media house to enter the sports betting arena as an independent gaming service provider. It will be battling to take market share from the already established players to have a piece of the billions generated from betting, which has become an addiction to many Kenyans including not football fanatics.

With advertising falling for mainstream media houses due to a shift in media consumption and the government’s policy that restricts ads in commercial platforms, media houses are looking for alternative revenue streams to boost their profits. RMS had banned betting adverts on all its platforms ahead of the Shabiki launch perhaps to avoid diluting its betting brand.

In the Shabiki gaming, the winner of the jackpot will have to make 10 out of 10 correct and valid predictions, while other players have set a limit of 13 games.

With betting companies facing a backlash from authorities and other groups for fleecing unsuspecting Kenyans, the ground has lately been shifting for gaming. Taxation has been increased and there have been enhanced lobbying for more taxes geared at discouraging gaming.

Responsible gaming

To encourage responsible gaming, Shabiki has, in its terms and conditions, provides tips for self-regulation among gamers.

“We are firmly committed to Responsible Betting and while we endeavour to give our customers an enjoyable betting experience, we are cognisant that irresponsible betting can pose problems to some individuals,” according to information on Shabiki website.

“We fully support responsible betting among our customers as we are committed to promoting the awareness of the problems associated with betting and facilitating prevention, intervention and treatment.”

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It has provided the following guidelines:

  • Separate betting from your daily activities.
  • Establish affordable deposit or stake limits.
  • Take some time to break from betting.
  • Do not bet when you are distressed or depressed.
  • Strictly regulate your alcohol consumption whenever you are betting.
  • Do not bet using borrowed money, or money set aside for daily necessities.
  • Betting should not be an alternative source of income.

It also says players can request temporary or permanent self- exclusion from the betting system. “We will use all our reasonable endeavors to ensure compliance with self-exclusion,” it says.

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