STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

World Cup gambling in Kenya

Five African nations are competing in the FIFA World Cup, and it is anticipated that an incredible 86% of the contine...

Posted: Jun 19, 2018 12:14 PM
Updated: Jun 19, 2018 12:14 PM

Five African nations are competing in the FIFA World Cup, and it is anticipated that an incredible 86% of the continents' population in Sub-Sahara alone will be tuning into the matches, a new GeoPoll study says. Sports-mad Kenyans are no exception.

Kenya is home to world-class athletic champions, Safari Rally enthusiasts, and a rising international rugby sevens team. But football is the most popular spectator sport in the country; the English Premier League is followed religiously.

INTERACTIVE: World Cup in numbers

SCHEDULE: Matches and kickoff times

Footballer Nelson Mandela Oballa, says: "Football is life, like part of the daily routine -- you wake up, eat, football, then sleep, it goes deep." He adds that in his neighborhood, "it's all about football." Groups here gather around screens in cyber caf-s, a furniture shop, in the street, sports bars and video halls to watch a game.

READ: Spain sacks coach after he takes Real Madrid job

READ: US-Mexico-Canada win 2026 World Cup bid

'Betting has spoiled the game I love so much'

Named after the former South African President, Oballa has been playing football for as long as he can remember.

"We used to go outside and play for like the whole day then my Mom would really get mad," he says.

"She had this saying 'You think I'm stupid cooking while you go and play out all day? Fine! When you come back to this house feeling hungry eat that ball, also let the football go to school and read for you, and as for this dirty dishes you are supposed to wash I hope the football washes them for you.' So my love of football started way back!"

READ: Your Country Needs You! What nationality means to the modern-day footballer

READ: And the winner of the 2018 World Cup will be ...

Oballa says that in addition to Kenyans' love of the game, on the sidelines, betting on matches is a culture that is rapidly gaining root in the country.

"Everyone is betting. I think betting is spoiling the good game. It's become more of a business to some people," Oballa said.

"It's spoiled the game I love so much."

In Sub-Saharan Africa, gambling is highest among Kenyans -- where betting is legal over the age of 18.

The proliferation of betting firms in the African nation is giving rise to growing concerns about the addictive nature of gambling, and the lack of any apparent safeguards to prevent underage gambling.

Authorities by their own admission recognize the need to provide a safety net for addicted gamblers falling through the cracks.

A government spokesman, Mwenda Njoka, tells CNN: "It's only now that Kenyans have woken up to the dangers of gambling."

READ: Mexico stuns Germany

Njoka notes that, "the regularity framework for advertising is weak," and that whilst it is the government's responsibility to ensure proper warnings about responsible gambling, he says, "we need to do more."

'When I bet, I feel good'

Twenty-year-old Richard Ndungu is one of many people for whom football and gambling go hand in hand. At the juice bar he runs in a busy market on the outskirts of Nairobi he tells us "I get like 60 dollars per week, and I spend 35 dollars on betting."

He bets every day without fail. When we meet up with him a week later, at "Stone Cold" -- a local dive bar, he's betting again, flipping through a newspaper to "Kona Ya Kubeti" (betting corner) on the betting tips page.

As he watches a game of football, he tells us how he recently placed all his rent money on a bet -- "5K" (50 USD).

"I lost. I had to deal with the landlord, I had to tell him like 'Wait, the next month I'll pay,'" he said.

"I really want to stop betting but I can't."

READ: France's 'Rainbow team' looks back on historic win twenty years on

Ndungu is no exception. Last weekend, with the World Cup only a few days away, queues of punters were already lining up outside a popular sports betting shop in Nairobi to place bets on the friendlies.

We meet up with Kevin Ochieng, who just bet on Brazil to beat Austria. A group of gamblers, some of them his friends, most of them jobless tell us they're going to bet every day, "It's for the grind."

The following day we find Kevin back at the betting shop. He says he won 180 shillings yesterday.

Kevin started betting in February after losing his job. "It was the English Premier League. I won like 20,000 (200 USD) from 100 bob (1 USD) the first time."

Now, he adds, "it's where I'm trying to buy daily bread. When I bet, I feel good because I have a lot of hope."

Kevin has been lucky -- "I never lose" -- but some people, he says, have to steal to place bets.

"People do gamble with so many reasons. My reason; I have dreams, I don't have cash."

Imelda Ominde does have the cash, she's a professional nurse, who says she's not really a football fan but she bets regularly and can't miss a game, "I'm addicted to it. I can't do without betting."

She's lost almost as much as she's won, but says, "I have the money, little which I can waste a bit in."

We ask her if the World Cup will be about the game or how much money Kenyans can make -- "It will be both."

The injection of money into the game, for better or for worse, is best illustrated by SportPesa.

It's Kenya's most successful online sports betting company (literally meaning SportMoney.) Locally they're shirt sponsors for all major league football teams, and in the English Premiership for Hull City and Everton, and they have signed agreements to build local and international partnerships in soccer, rugby, boxing, motorsport.

CEO Ronald Karauri says he started the company four years ago, and that by 2016, they were posting profits of 2 Billion shillings, around $20 million.

The swanky SportPesa Nairobi offices are decked with soccer memorabilia -- signed English Premier League shirts lining the walls, football-shaped chairs and lighting; and a gigantic mobile phone, symbolizing the enormity of online betting, which is only a few digits away.

Underage gambling

We discuss the dangers of underage online gambling, and Ronald Karauri insists, "It's not affecting children."

He adds: "There's no way unless the kid had access to your phone, which is the same as you know you have a loaded gun and you leave it on the desk and you don't secure your device."

READ: Maradona and 'the only miracle of the 20th century'

In downtown Nairobi where life is less glitzy, children typically play in the streets unsupervised while their hard pressed parents go out to work.

It is here that we meet 12 and 14 year old Cousins Brian and Teddy, with their parents' permission. Teddy tells us he uses his friend's phone to gamble online, and Brian says he gets older youth to place bets in the shop on his behalf.

"Last week there," Brian says pointing to a betting shop. "We were two people, I'm 12 and he's 18, he have an ID card so I just told him how to do those things and I waited outside there. And he get inside and bet. After that he come back and he won 400 Shillings."

He explains that after splitting the prize money, he bought a $2 pair of socks with his share of the winnings. When Brian is 18 he says he will start betting on his own.

"Betting helps people, sometimes you may not get money but if you bet you can win and get money. The thing to do, you should not give up."

READ: Goals, tears and earthquake alerts on the road to Russia

Underage gambling has become a growing concern in Kenya, enabled with mobile money and easy access to the internet.

Government spokesman Mwenda Njoka tells CNN that some youth have paid the ultimate price.

"We've had cases of children committing suicide after losing bets," he said.

"What is lacking is we need to have some counseling not just for the physical but for the mindset, for people who are addicted to gambling."

Visit CNN.com/sport for more news and features

Now, because of the internet, Njoka said, it's become difficult to control and manage to prevent underage people from betting.

Huntsville
Overcast
71° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 71°
Florence
Overcast
70° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 70°
Fayetteville
Broken Clouds
68° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 68°
Decatur
Overcast
71° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 71°
Scottsboro
Broken Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 70°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 15718

Reported Deaths: 580
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2054112
Jefferson164596
Montgomery138434
Marshall6609
Tuscaloosa60712
Lee52232
Franklin4866
Shelby46719
Tallapoosa40863
Butler38013
Chambers33824
Madison3094
Elmore2927
Baldwin2779
Walker2721
Etowah24011
DeKalb2343
Dallas2223
Coffee2161
Lowndes20710
Morgan2041
Sumter2046
Autauga1893
Houston1834
Bullock1673
Pike1600
Colbert1552
Calhoun1503
Choctaw1477
Marengo1456
Russell1440
Lauderdale1412
Hale1354
Randolph1247
Barbour1221
Wilcox1227
Clarke1202
Marion11711
St. Clair1061
Pickens954
Talladega953
Dale920
Greene914
Chilton901
Cullman830
Limestone820
Winston750
Jackson722
Covington711
Henry692
Bibb661
Macon652
Washington656
Crenshaw622
Blount511
Lawrence450
Escambia453
Geneva400
Perry360
Coosa341
Monroe342
Cherokee332
Conecuh301
Clay272
Lamar210
Cleburne131
Fayette130
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 20895

Reported Deaths: 343
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Davidson471660
Shelby451696
Trousdale13924
Rutherford106322
Sumner83845
Hamilton64215
Bledsoe6081
Williamson52710
Tipton4273
Robertson4141
Lake4130
Putnam4105
Wilson3718
Knox3455
Out of TN3394
Bedford2694
Montgomery2513
Rhea1970
Hardeman1890
Madison1742
Loudon1360
McMinn13514
Cheatham1120
Cumberland1111
Fayette1082
Macon1083
Dickson1060
Bradley991
Blount843
Maury800
Washington750
Unassigned750
Sevier752
Coffee660
Wayne630
Sullivan622
Gibson611
Monroe582
Lauderdale561
Hickman530
Dyer480
Franklin481
Greene472
Anderson401
Marion371
DeKalb350
Grundy321
Hawkins312
Smith301
Marshall291
Haywood292
Henry290
Jefferson280
Carroll271
Obion271
White270
Hamblen262
Weakley260
Lincoln250
Meigs250
Lawrence240
Overton230
Warren210
Cocke200
Carter191
Morgan170
Cannon170
Campbell171
Jackson170
Crockett161
Johnson150
Roane150
Polk140
Perry130
Humphreys131
Henderson130
Chester120
Sequatchie120
Giles120
McNairy120
Fentress120
Hardin112
Scott110
Stewart90
Claiborne80
Houston70
Benton71
Grainger60
Clay60
Decatur50
Union40
Van Buren40
Lewis30
Moore30
Unicoi30
Pickett30
Hancock10

 

 

Community Events