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 main 1ource of revenue is betting, gaming and lotteries, was established to offer support to sports federations, training and development of sports, culture and arts in Kenya.
When she recently appeared before the National Assembly Sports Committee, Sports Cabinet SLqcretary 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 largely on football sponsorship, at the expense of other sporting activities.
Already, betting firms such as Mozzart Bet have taken the cue and recently sponsored to the tune of Sh 3 million the second Nandi Road Race 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 in a row.
The theme of the race has always been in line with Mozzart’s mission to make Kenya a better place for the communities. The firm has so far 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 continues to support sports teams with equipment all over the country and donated crucial equipment to hospitals especially at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Betting companies also need to urgently promote responsible betting as a number of 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, Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB), as well as the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).
Being responsible about gambling means knowing whether to play, how to play, and how much money to spend.
Broadly speaking, youths in Kenya have been placing bets on football games, with the hope of winning money and as a form of leisure. 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 have 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 increase in income but also social cost which includes breakage of families, suicide and bankruptcy, among others.
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 has been entrenched in the sector and is now considered a key 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 with identifying potential risks and providing psychosocial support, especially providing mental health services to those affected.
Betting firms should also partner with various security agencies and the criminal justice system to stem criminal activities arising from betting. The global gaming industry is awash with cash, fintech and fiat currency transactions.
This is a recipe for illicit activities such as money laundering, but which cannot easily be stemmed without joint efforts.
The time to act is now and betting firms must take a lead in this.