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Battling betting ghosts : The Standard

12th September, 10:51

For More of This and Other Stories, Grab Your Copy of the Standard Newspaper. The win also marked the beginning of gambling for the high school student who bet away what was left of his pocket money. The habit heightened when Wakhungu joined university where he had a lot of hours away from class to bet. For years, he has been caught between a desire to quit betting and an even stronger urge to strike it big from betting. "I waste a lot of time on betting. I bet everywhere, even when I am in class. I stay up late just to bet and put up with exhaustion because I don't sleep enough," says Wakhungu.

SEE ALSO :KRA's interpretation of winnings makes betting less attractiveHe has tried to quit betting more than four times and slid back into the habit when he was pressed with immediate needs in school when he was faced with an urge to back Liverpool, a team he supports in international soccer. Nevertheless, what keeps him hooked on sports gambling is peer pressure from friends who, he says, have big investments, thanks to years dabbling in gambling. "I will only quit betting once I make a major breakthrough like many of my friends who own lots of properties they acquired through betting. My friend owns several rental apartments yet he is only a fourth-year student at Moi University. I too will get something big to show for the years I have been betting. Until then, I continue to bet," he says. The most Wakhungu has earned betting is Sh27, 000 after he placed a Sh100 bet about a year ago. He has, on the other hand, lost up to Sh50,000 through what he attributes to fraudulent transactions by a popular sports betting firm. Wakhungu epitomises thousands of other students struggling to pick up the pieces of college betting addiction that has been linked to depression, crime and suicide among university students.

SEE ALSO :Betting firm Betway makes MAJOR announcement about its operation in KenyaCases of students who gamble away their tuition fees, resort to crime to quench their thirst for betting and those who commit suicide when they lose everything in indicate that higher education institutions in Kenya are the hotbeds for gambling. In fact, it emerged last month that betting was top on the list of most searched queries on search engine Google. Leading betting sites on Google's top August general searches included Bet 254, 22 Bet, Shabiki Power 17 and Odi Bet. This was especially pronounced after Kenya Revenue Authority cancelled licenses of some 27 betting and gaming companies. A report, University Students Gambling: Examining the Effects of Betting on Kenyan University Students' Behaviour, found that 78 per cent of students in tertiary institutions were engaged in gambling. "Tertiary students have been identified as a high risk group because they have increased freedom at this age, are frequent Internet users and fall into the age group (18-24 years) where gambling peaks," reads part of the report.

SEE ALSO :Details emerge why betting firms were denied licencesStudents waste time calculating how to place bets In the report, that was published on the International Journal of Liberal Arts and Social Science, Dr Rachel Koross sought to find out the leading motivators of gambling among college students. Of the 100 students who participated in the survey, 70 students, accounting to 70 per cent confessed they were driven by a need for money to go into betting while 15 per cent revealed they derived enjoyment from betting. Ten said they started betting to kill boredom while only five of the students sample said they engaged in betting for a combination of all these factors. Dr Koross, who conducted the study at the University of Eldoret, also examined the amount of time students spent thinking about gambling, whether they used any upkeep money to bet and whether or not they had used their winnings for entertainment. The researcher also sought to know the number of students who had ever considered self-destruction or suicide in the event they lost the bet. Fifty students of the 100 said they found themselves thinking about gambling very often while 30 said they thought about betting often. A paltry five students said they never thought about gambling. "These findings indicate that students can spent much of their time thinking about bets, how to match them so as to win at the expense of school work and assignments," reads the report. The report also found that a majority of them return as soon as possible so as to win back or win more, a habit that has been said to lead to addictive gambling.