Let us have a sober debate about sports betting
5 months ago, 12 Jan 12:53
Remember Kamare? The nuisance game of chance that used to be so popular in the estates? It was a headache to most parents and the security agencies. Its operators would station themselves at a strategic corner of a street or an estate with a carton, place some cards and ask people to bet which cards will be picked to win some cash. Now, what most of its fans did not know is that those cards were often a fraud, tampered with by the controller of the game mostly a trickster. Groups of young men and women would hurdle in a corner seeking to make quick cash unknown to them that they are part of a con game. Kamare, was a nightmare to police, parents and the society. I am glad to speak about it in the past tense although I know it’s not completely stamped out. Its popularity has waned thanks to the emergence of sports betting companies. There is need for a sober debate on this issue. Just like alcohol, sports betting is all about entertainment. Most people who are busy vilifying sports betting companies are yet to look at how these companies have helped clear underground gambling. This is a vice the country would not want to deal with, ask India. The Asian country is currently working on ways to legalise sports betting after dealing with one too many cases of underground gambling; Kamare style et al. What I mostly read in papers from people speaking out against betting companies is that most of them are basing their arguments on hearsay. Patrick Gathara, a columnist with the Star yesterday quoted a non-industry source – Moses Kemibaro- alleging one betting company rakes in Ksh300 million a month. He further adds that a GeoPoll survey shows Kenya has the highest number of youths who gamble. Gathara in his uninformed bashing of sports betting selectively leaves out the facts from the same GeoPoll survey that states Kenyan youth spend more money in self grooming, investment and entertainment than they do on gambling. The debate on the true effects of gambling is being based on uninformed, unsupported figures for reasons only known to those who steer this unfairness. The GeoPoll survey Gathara quotes shows that Kenyan youth spend 55 per cent of their income on personal care, invest 26 per cent of their earnings, spend six per cent on entertainment and five per cent on gambling. Sports betting industry is a nascent industry that has streamlined gaming in the country and that is a fact. When alcohol drinks became expensive this country grappled with illicit brews which led to hundreds of deaths. Brewers are now making alcohol for each market segment hence deaths related to illicit liquor are nearly unheard of these days. When was the last time you spotted a Kamare agent in town or in your estate? We have got to give it to these gaming companies. If they are driven out of business prepare to see the re-emergence of ...
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