Brand Kenya Board Chairman Dr Chris Kirubi has urged President Uhuru Kenyatta “to pay attention” so that Kenya doesn’t get a reputation for being a “gambling nation as opposed to a working one.”
Speaking on Wednesday during a courtesy call by the Communications Authority of Kenya Chairman Ngene Gituku and Director General Francis Wangusi, Dr Kirubi said the virtue of hard work was being tarnished by the glamourisation of mobile based sports betting, and gambling in general, as an easy way to make money.
“We have allowed gambling to take the centre control of the mind of the young people and for them to spend the little money they have buying luck slots. They lose, one of them wins and through the media you show the guy who won but they don’t show you the people who lost. By the time one wins, there are 10,000 who lost.”
The ‘easy money’ mentality, he said, only served to further entrench the culture of corruption that Kenya struggles to shake.
Dr Kirubi therefore called on the CA to take a firmer regulatory hand, beyond providing short codes, in how the business is conducted.
Gituku and Wangusi did however explain that their role in the whole affair was limited but did say they would convene a “cross-jurisdictional” meet with the Betting Control and Licensing Board given concerns raised.
“We’re soliciting for ideas and I believe that one of the things we will do is just to call a meeting with the Licensing and Betting Control to start brainstorming on this issues and see which way to go. It’s really a time bomb in waiting because we soon might see people selling their houses and sorry to say some communities even selling the wife.”
The Kenya Film Classification Board has itself recommended that the ads promoting mobile based sports betting should be aired off-watershed to limit their exposure to young minds.
“The likelihood of misleading the youth and children to think that you can get rich quick, you can use shortcuts, you just bet one day and you know, you’re there (is high),” the Board CEO Ezekiel Mutua presented as their argument.
The National Assembly itself considered setting up a special select committee to look into the booming industry but the motion was ultimately voted down.