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Betting: how agencies seize young kenians

A Sunday Times reportage in Nairobi slums

16-07-2019 by redazione

Just a few days after the government blocked the licenses of betting agencies in Kenya, a disturbing and thorough investigation of the English Sunday Times unmasks the round of interests also linked to the multinationals of sports merchandising and especially to the big teams of the Premier League.
A tour that leads to illegality and immorality because it deliberately involves minors and in some cases even poor children of the slums of Nairobi.
According to the Sunday Times correspondent Andrew Gilligan, the British betting agencies, but also the Kenyan SportPesa that sponsors several teams in the English championship, use market techniques banned in the United Kingdom.  
They appeal to the very young using cartoon characters and giving away sportswear to attract them. In the betting shops of a British company in the slums of Nairobi, the Sunday Times tells of 14-year-old boys who play freely, in violation of Kenyan law.
Cynically leveraging on extreme poverty and the hope that a miracle will happen that can change their social condition and therefore their lives, betting companies lead minors to get money in any way to try their luck, sending a message uneducative in spite of the rules.
The Sunday Times article focuses in particular on the slum of Kibera, the largest and most problematic, where the betting house has become the new center of aggregation, with matches of the Premier League and other leagues broadcast non-stop.
The advertisements of the betting agencies SportPesa and BetIn (the two of which the government has suspended indefinitely the Mpesa accounts) show just the life in the slums and the opportunity to suddenly become rich and afford a millionaire's house and lead a life worthy of testimonials, the former Inter footballer McDonald Mariga and his girlfriend, a well-known local presenter.
Gilligan also interviews a fourteen-year-old Kibera, Alfred, who confirms that betting is the only way to make money in Nairobi ("If you bet every day, God can help you and make you rich") while his peer Geoffrey says "I think of nothing but betting on football, I don't care about eating. If I'm lucky and I win, I'll have plenty of time to eat.
These are not isolated cases, the report also illustrates data from the Ministry of the Interior showing that three out of four young people in Kenya are dedicated to gambling and that 500,000 people have debt problems or are called "unreliable creditors" because of online gambling.
According to Kenyan law betting is forbidden to children under eighteen, but the controls so far have been lacking and the ability in Kenya to play using money to be charged on the phone and not just the credit card as is the case in other countries, makes it easier.
While the Kenyan government is trying to take countermeasures, it is making the silence of the British authorities, starting with the Football Federation and the Premier League, one of the most powerful commercial machines in the world, very much debatable and outrageous.
In every corner of Nairobi there is the image of a champion of Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester City or Liverpool combined with the big betting giants.
In recent weeks the Everton team, sponsored by SportPesa, has toured Kenya, playing some friendly matches with local teams.
Millionaire contracts and the opportunity to disguise everything with charitable activities, such as gifts of football uniforms, gadgets and other sports items.

(photo, courtesy)

TAGS: scommesse kenyabetting kenyaminorenni kenyaslum kenya

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