Despite the love-hate relationship between Kenyan authorities and betting operators, sports betting continues to blossom in the country.
In their bid to curb the gambling surge in the country, the government has pulled up almost all the tricks in the book, but online betting is still going on very strong.
At one point, President Uhuru Kenyatta even suggested a complete ban on gambling, but that never truly looked like coming into effect.
A few years ago, the government succeeded in forcing some of the biggest betting companies in Kenya, notably SportPesa and Betin, out of the country, but that has only paved the way for more operators to step in and take their chance.
According to information available on the website of the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB), Kenya’s top gambling regulator, there are now over 100 betting sites licensed to operate in Kenya.
From betway to betpesa, Kenyans are spoilt for choice!
Indeed, Kenya remains one of the top gambling nations in Africa.
The gambling rates may be on the increase in Kenya, but betting companies continue to tread on slippery terrain.
Kenyan lawmakers are never too far away from increasing betting taxes or voicing strong concerns about the rapid growth of sports betting in the country.
Hence, betting operators have a lot to do if they are to win over the government and get into everyone’s good books.
One way of doing this is by actively taking up their Corporate Social Responsibilities.
By investing in good social courses, they send a message to the government, and also to the still skeptical group in the population that they are not that bad after all!
Some betting sites have been pretty good at this, with football sponsorship and support being the most common way they give back to the society.
Critics will argue that football sponsorship is also a way of advertisement for the betting companies, as it increases their popularity and helps the company get more customers.
While this is true to an extent, the financial contributions of these companies to Kenyan football over the years cannot be underestimated. So, it’s a win-win for everybody!
The Kenyan Premier League has been associated with some betting companies in the last few years. SportPesa and Betking have sponsored the KPL within the last decade, while BetSafe took over the sponsorship of Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards after previous sponsors, SportPesa were forced out.
Betika and Odibets have also bankrolled Kenya’s lower divisions.
Unfortunately, some of these deals have not ended well, for reasons such as mismanagement and mistrust amongst the different parties.
While their involvement in football is admirable, betting companies should look to branch away from the round-leather game and spread their CSR activities to other areas of the Kenyan society. For starters, they can look into other sports.
Also, there are numerous projects around Kenya, from building to entertainment and beyond, that can do with some cash injection.
Maybe if betting operators in Kenya stepped up their CSR activities and made more deliberate efforts to genuinely support great social courses, the BCLB and Kenya’s tax authorities will finally give them some breathing space.