Betting Firms Must Go Big on CSR, Promote Responsible Betting

Communications Authority orders mobile operators to stop issuance of ICT platforms, services to unlicensed betting and gaming firms

As the government shifts its attention by disbursing gambling proceeds to CSR and other sporting activities apart from football sponsorship, betting firms should offer unequivocal support to the Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund.

The Fund was set up with the enactment of the Sports Act 2013. The law requires 60 percent of the total collections to go to social development, including UHC, and 40 percent to sports, culture, and the arts. Of the 40 percent, the Sports Act stipulates that 35 percent should go to sports while 5 to 15 percent should be set aside for the arts.

The Fund, whose primary source of revenue is betting, gaming and lotteries, was established to support sports federations, training, and development of sports, culture, and arts in Kenya.

When she recently appeared before the National Assembly Sports Committee, Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed told MPs that as of October 2021, the Fund had collected Sh30.3 billion since its inception and disbursed Sh7 billion to the Ministry of Health for Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

The Fund was established based on the realization that most betting firms are concentrating mainly on football sponsorship at the expense of other sporting activities.

Already, betting firms such as Mozzart Bet have taken the cue and recently sponsored the second Nandi Road Race to the tune of Sh3 million, which is geared towards environmental conservation and restoration of the county’s shrinking water towers and wetlands.

It is noteworthy that Mozzart is sponsoring this race for the second year. The race theme has always been in line with Mozzart’s mission to make Kenya a better place for the communities.

The firm has spent over Ksh 100 million in supporting community projects. The highlight is the 100 wells for the Kenyan communities’ project that has so far seen the company dig eight boreholes in various counties in Kenya.

Mozzart also supports sports teams all over the country and donates crucial equipment to hospitals, especially at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Betting companies also need to urgently promote responsible betting as several youths have gone into depression, even committing suicide after losing a wager. These are clear signs of addiction that need to be addressed urgently.

Supporting great social courses will go a long way in strengthening relations between betting companies and the regulator, the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB), and the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA). Being responsible about gambling means knowing whether to play, how to play, and how much money to spend.

Available statistics indicate that participation in sports betting in Kenya has been increasing since 2013. The number of firms registered to provide sports betting services has increased from 1 in 2013 to 28 in 2018, attracting 5 million active customers in 2018 from 2 million in 2016.

The increased participation in sports betting comes with economic benefits such as an increase in income and social cost, including breakage of families, suicide and bankruptcy, among others. Kenya’s youth have been placing bets on football games, hoping to win money and as a form of leisure.

As an impulse-control disorder, betting addiction is often associated with other issues such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and employment challenges.

To address these issues, the promotion of responsible gaming should have been entrenched in the sector and is now considered an essential element of good corporate citizenship.

Betting firms should therefore partner with relevant sports governing bodies to promote responsible betting and be at the forefront of identifying partners that would help identify potential risks and provide psychosocial support, especially mental health services, to those affected.

The global gaming industry is awash with cash, fintech, and fiat currency transactions. This recipe for illicit activities such as money laundering cannot easily be stemmed without joint efforts.

Betting firms should also partner with various security agencies and the criminal justice system to stem illegal activities arising from betting. The time to act is now, and betting firms must take the lead.

Chris Wangalwa, a Communications Consultant at The Bael Limited


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