A joint FinAccess Household survey by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), and Financial Sector Deepening Trust (FSD) Kenya reveals that elderly Kenyans top the list in gambling.

According to the survey, elderly Kenyans aged 55 and above top the list of weekly gamblers in the country. The elderly citizens bet 49 times a week on average – way higher than for 41.4 per cent for all other age groups. Average bet placed by the elderly persons is however the least among all age sets at Sh735. This is an indication that they gamble for leisure rather than income generation as is the case among the more youthful gamblers.

In the survey, 13.9 per cent of respondents reported being actively engaged in betting, with 18.4 per cent of those who bet being in urban areas and 11.4 per cent in rural areas.

“The gamers who perceive gaming as a source of income declined from 22.7 per cent in 2019 to 11.2 per cent in 2021 and the average amount used for betting declined to Sh939 in 2021 compared to Sh2,559 in 2019. This could be partly attributed (to the) government’s deliberate measures to combat irresponsible and illegal betting,” the report notes.

Overall, the frequency of betting declined in 2021 compared to 2019. Per day betting dropped to 15.9 percent from 22.6 per cent while weekly betting dropped to 41.4 per cent from 51.7 per cent. However, monthly and occasional betting increased to 8 per cent and 22.2 per cent from 6.9 per cent and 17.1 per cent, respectively, in 2019.

The betting industry records an average of Sh200 billion in annual sales. However, the growth has come at a cost for Kenyan youth who have borrowed loans to finance their gambling habits. For example, in the six months to September, Kenyans spent Sh83.2 billion to place bets through Safaricom’s M-Pesa platform alone. The telco’s disclosures show that the value of the bets jumped 69 per cent from Sh49.2 billion a year earlier. Safaricom, Kenya Revenue Authority and betting firms are the biggest beneficiaries of the growth and intensity of betting activities, pocketing billions.


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