Would you place your bet if the Government of Kenya set up a betting company? Would you trust the government with your money and place bets with it if it set up a betting company?
The much-hyped Building Bridges Initiative (BBI Report) wants the government to do away with private betting companies and set up a national lottery whose proceeds will go to the government.
“The private sector is leading to hopelessness and greater poverty,” said the report.
To help address the “hopelessness and greater poverty,” the report says “the private betting industry to be replaced with a government-run national lottery whose proceeds are used for activities that uplift the youth, sports, culture and other social activities.”
If the report will be implemented as it is, it will be ironic that the government will have to set up the exact thing it has been fighting by fire and water.
The government, through the Ministry of Interior, has been at loggerheads with betting firms, refusing to renew licenses for the majority of them including SportPesa and Betin, as well as introducing 20 percent on the stake placed.
The stand by the government led to two betting giants; SportPesa and Betin shutting their businesses in Kenya. SportPesa had to fire more than 450 employees while Betin had to send home at least 2,500 employees.
The recommendations of the report on setting up the national lottery run by the government and the work the proceeds are to perform are the same as those being performed by Sports Fund. The report is silent on what will happen to the Sports Fund if the report is adopted.
SportPesa was one of the major funders of sports and talent in Kenya. When the company left, teams such as Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards felt the heat. The government bragged that it was able and capable of supporting the local teams through funding but the teams are always on their own.