Do you gamble? Well, if you ask that question to many Kenyans, they will give you a straight answer – No; mainly because of the limited understanding of what it means or the numerous ways in which they participate but simply assigning different names or mental blocks to it.
In the mobile world, as consumers seek more utility from their mobile phones and revenues from traditional voice and sms services take a hit, companies are hard at work crafting new concepts for services to woo the mobile subscriber. One of the mobile services is mobile lottery and the country has been taken by storm by a string of high value lotteries that will see over three hundred million shillings in cash and prizes given away in the span of six months.
Mobile lottery is big even on the global arena with potential for rapid growth as the barriers to adoption, biggest of which is cultural are diminished. Global estimates (from Association of British Bookmakers) put the market value of gaming and lotteries at around USD 1000 billon, with mobile rapidly becoming the preferred mode of engagement, moreso for low stake games.No surprises as to why broadcasters, value added service providers and mobile operators have made a mad rush into the space. There are four main flavors of mobile gaming – lotteries, quiz based or skill based games, sports betting, casino style games and betting exchanges.
While the current market models in Kenya use premium sms and a quiz based model, online and mobile application gaming is yet to go mainstream. With numerous payment platforms coming into the market, I believe that is just a matter of time before this too goes takes off as one can play or participate without having to go out and purchase a physical ticket. That said, the Kenyan gaming and gambling market is still plagued by issues that need to be addressed if we are to see the market grow. The key driver in my opinion is to develop appropriate legislation to ensure proper control and regulation of the market lest it be open up to abuse and exploitation.
Online gambling for example is not allowed in Kenya as there is no supporting legislation, but that doesn’t prevent enterprising Kenyans from opening shop and running those services. This leads to obvious loss in revenue to the government as these services operate under the radar, notwithstanding the players have no rescourse in the evnt of any matters arising.
Certification of the platforms used to deliver these services must also be put in place to avert the possibility of fraud. In other markets for example, agencies exist that certify the platforms used to deliver services; ensuring they perform as they should with random checks done to ascertain conformity. The establishment of such an agency or standards body will lend legitimacy and confidence to the industry thereby encouraging more and more mobile subscribers to participate.
The privacy and convenience of the mobile phone coupled with changes in social perceptions and availability of multiple payment options and modes of engagement will see this particular industry attract massive investments.
Done right, the end user will be spoilt for choice with citizens in their thousands laughing all the way to the bank, as will the tax man.