I am amazed that last week, a Kenyan couple took home the Paris marathon titles for men and women on the same day. In Kenya, winning a marathon is normal, and even expected. However, in the race to find ways to support the Kenyan public to fight gambling addiction, Kenya is losing.
I’m having a hard time finding tears to cry for local game owners whose national taxes through the betting industry in Kenya have been raised from 7.5% to now 50% of all gaming revenue. Mainly because they have proved ineffective in self policing and correction (e.g. underage checks and support for gambling addicts) Their advertising revenues carry major budget share in a variety of publicly accessible media, and almost muzzle journalists’ ability to critically analyze the impact of gaming on Kenyans.
Unlike other addictions, which are more visible now in the media, like alcohol and substance abuse, gambling addiction hardly gets any airplay. Invariably, you hear and see more about the betting promotions than the ails. You read less Op-Eds and see less school based anti-gambling campaigns. Betting ad revenue seems to be carrying the day.
However, if the heavy arm of the taxman cannot provide a temporary umbrella for the suffering of families which are struggling with gambling loved ones, who can?
In a 2017 study conducted by Imperial College and the National Problem Gambling Clinic in the United Kingdom and reported by Science Daily, the most problematic gambling behaviours included sports gambling, and gambling was more likely to activate the same pathways as drug and alcohol cravings. Even more scary? Scant research exists on the impact of problem gambling on adolescents and youth. A 2006 Psychiatry (Edgmont) article estimates that for every one adult with problem gambling, 2 to 4 times as many adolescents are likewise affected – with the consensus being that gambling is worst when it starts at a very young age.
Are we just waiting to cry so hard, we will only be able to cry out of one eye?
Let us get serious.