The allure of betting is driven by the possibility of raking big profits from a small stake. Easy access to betting websites through the mobile phone has made betting very popular across the world, including here in Kenya.
In the past, punters (people who bet) would physically visit places like the Ngong Racecourse in Nairobi or a casino in order to make bets. Betting was out of reach for most people because it was done in very few places. In addition, betting in casinos is mostly a pass time for the rich. With computers and the mobile phone today, anyone can place a bet from anywhere for as little as one shilling.
There are many types of betting, all of which involve staking money with the hope of winning the money back with a profit. The most popular type of betting is sports betting, where punters make predictions on various sporting events expecting to win money if the games play out as predicted. Lottery betting involves selecting a set of numbers with hopes of making money if the selected numbers match the winning combination. Betting in casinos is about games of chance such as the rolling of dice, playing of slot machines, roulette and card games. Casinos are mostly patronized by wealthier people because of the high stakes needed to play the games.
There are online websites that offer bets on political events, current affairs, and even the weather. For example, one can bet on the outcome of elections, how long a particular political leader will last in power or whether a particular political party will win or lose a majority in elections.
The biggest drawback with any kind of betting is its unpredictability. One can never tell whether the bet will win or lose. That is why it is advisable that people do not depend on betting for income. Individuals that have made money from betting will tell you that they lose often. In other words, there is no such thing as a “sure bet.”
Fixed matches being offered for sale online are a myth. Though there have been cases of sports officials getting implicated in match-fixing, it is highly unlikely that those involved would advertise themselves online.
That said, there are certain moral arguments regarding betting, mostly that betting encourages idleness and waste of money. In extreme cases, addicts of betting might divert money meant for household use or even steal. However, similar arguments can be made regarding many other forms of recreation. Perhaps it is the prospect of earning without sweat that makes betting seem somehow immoral. Strictly speaking, as long as someone is gambling his/her money and is taking care of personal responsibilities, then it can also be argued that people can spend their money in whatever manner they wish.
Here are some tips on responsible betting from those who have been at it for a while.
Be responsible: Bet only what you can afford to lose. A bet can be lost just as easily as it can be won. Take care of your basic needs and that of your family. You can place bets with the cash left at hand.
Do not involve minors: Young people under the age of 18 should not be betting because they do not have an income and might be tempted to steal or divert money meant for school activities.
Do not chase losing bets: If you place a bet and lose, do not place more bets hoping to win back the money you lost in the previous bet. This is called, “chasing a loss,” and it can only lead to bigger losses. If you are having a string of bad luck, it is better to take a break from betting.
Do not bet when desperate: The rent is due and you have only half the cash you need. If you bet with that money, your frame of mind at that moment could push you into placing risky bets that are highly likely to fail. It is tempting to bet your KES 3,000 hoping to grow it ten times into KES 30,000 but such a bet is very likely to fail (the higher the odds, the higher the risk).
Make a budget: If you don’t plan your betting expenses, you might spend too much. Give yourself a daily or weekly limit on betting and stick to it. Related to that is setting a time limit for betting. Allocate yourself a fixed time each day when you can look at games and place bets. Without such a limit, one could easily spend the whole day analysing games.
Don’t borrow money to place bets: What happens if the bet loses? You will not be able to repay the loan.
Avoid getting superstitious: Betting is all about luck and chance, and no amount of superstition will change the outcomes. Lucky charms and witchdoctors (waganga) have no effect on the outcome of games.
Ultimately, betting companies are in business to make money. They have very attractive offers we see in the media while others are sent directly to our phones by SMS. Those offers are meant to encourage us to put money into betting. Nothing personal about it, just good business for them.
Godfrey Kimega is a communication professional with lots of experience in
media, civil society, government, and manufacturing. Currently residing in
Voi town, Godfrey has a keen interest in matters affecting communities generally
and weighs in various opinions on how best we could change the narrative positively.