GOODBYE AND GOOD RIDDANCE?
By: Sumaya Hussein
The Closure of Sportpesa and Betin in Kenya
The closure of SportPesa and Betin in Kenya announced on Saturday the 28th of September 2019. The shutdown of operations by these two giant betting companies was seen through an internal memo circulated to the staff.
The internal memo stated that staff from these two companies will be laid off their duties by the end of September 2019. The reason behind this was said to be the hostile environment provided by the Kenyan government which imposed a 20% tax on all wins, affecting their profitability. This came as a shocker for most Kenyans due to the impact these firms have brought to the country.
Firstly, it is important to mention some of the positive things these companies have contributed to the economy of Kenya. Sportpesa and Betin were responsible for supporting local sports teams through sponsorships. These teams include the National team, Harambee Stars, which was supported in the recent Africa Cup Of Nations (AFCON) by Betin, Gor Mahia, AFC Leopards and the Kenya Premier League altogether.
It was mentioned by the Football Kenya Federation manager, Nick Mwendwa, that the companies had sponsored local football with up to Ksh 600 million. The departure of these companies leaves the teams stranded not to mention sources tell us that players from teams of Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards have not been paid in over 2 months. The Kenya Premier League are also left without a sponsor and have no funds to pay the referees.
One of the people who were openly happy about the closure of the betting firms was MP Kanini Kega. He mentioned that the country should be careful about the type of investors it allows into the economy. He also said that the firms caused addiction and led youth into looking for riches and easy money through gambling instead of hard work.
Kenyans took to twitter to address this matter. Some were very bitter, saying how the government should provide jobs for youth and support to the local sports teams instead. However, some shared the same opinion with MP Kega about betting being a disease and Kenyans were better off without it.
Looking at things from a different perspective, Kenya is ranked the third-largest gambling market in Africa behind South Africa and Nigeria. A study conducted by Amani Mwadime showed that approximately 2 million people in Nairobi alone participate in online betting. It has become a full-time occupation for some people and those who work find themselves betting with their colleagues at tea break, lunch hour, evenings and during the nights. Moreover, students spend more time betting than they do with their academics.
Those who have experience in it know that one is likely to lose more than he/she will gain. The effects of losing itself are not very pretty. It makes youth go broke, fall into depression and even become suicidal. Furthermore, according to social anthropologists, it is among the list of things known to cause domestic violence.
As much as it has brought some good, betting also has its disadvantages which bring a strain to the growth and economy of a country. It is therefore actually safe to say goodbye and good riddance to Sportpesa and Betin.