How betting has become a ‘game changer’ in alcohol business

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Desire for quick riches among the youth is working against alcohol world.

Betting has become a “serious” competitor to the local alcohol business, Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL) Managing Director Jane Karuku has hinted

Ms Karuku said in a panel discussion at the company’s headquarters in Ruaraka, Nairobi, that after food and mobile phone airtime, people below 35 years are increasingly splitting their disposable income between buying liquor and betting.

“Betting is a serious competitor. When you walk into any shopping centre, the proportion of betting shops is probably the highest and when youth get in, there will be betting shop then bar,” said Ms Karuku.

“The frequency of how these people spend time is more on the betting because it has been glorified as a get-rich-quick investment.”

Her sentiments amplify the betting craze that has gripped the country’s youth with interior ministry CS Fred Matiangi recently claiming that at least 500,000 youth have been blacklisted by lending firms after they borrowed for gambling and lost. This figure, however, has not been verified.

Mr Matiangi directed that all betting licences in the country will stand suspended effective July 1, 2019 unless the holders show proof of tax payment.

KBL, which is a subsidiary of East African Breweries Limited (EABL), becomes the second firm to identify betting as a key competitor. In 2017, the Capital Markets Authority said gambling was part of the reason young people were not investing in shares at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE).

KBL is concerned that most of those taking to betting are male youth – the very group that forms the majority of its client base especially for value brands such as Senator Keg.

“We get more business from men than women. Women’s consumption is very low driven by culture, religion and affordability,” said Ms Karuku.

Alcohol consumption per capita is lower compared with countries such as Uganda and Tanzania, even though spirits consumption is growing faster.

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