SMS Lotteries: Kenyan Mainstream Media Preying on Wananchi’s Misery

We have seen it with our pastors, politicians and now even the citizens eye has chosen to prey on the misery of the Kenyan population. It is sad that whenever Kenyans are experiencing tough economic times, one party will come with avenues of making them rich QUICK. The media has seen that the gambling industry in Kenya is not regulated as it should be and so a standard one kid with a phone will be able to participate in the lotteries run by media houses which are acceptable to every household in Kenya.

The latest culprit is Citizen TV which is set to start the Citizen Chapaa lottery and a viewer would be able to “win” Ksh 500,000 by just SMSing a premium number. Radio stations have used the same premium numbers to get money without providing quality content. Listeners and viewers participate ignorantly hoping to hit the jack-pot. I wonder what the law regulating gambling says but basically gambling should be accessible to the population of a certain minimum age. My family TV at home is viewed even by the 6 months son of my sister.

I recall that on February 11th there was a suspension on all SMS lotteries by Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) and Kenya anti-corruption commission. On that regard, I called BCLB and they have told me that SMS lotteries ban still stands. I am told to wait for Liti Wambua and Thuo Githinji. Let me see they would get back to me before I publish this article. Talking to some government officials, I get the impression that the government takes 30% of the revenue while BCLB collects also a good percentage for use in charities. OK! I have talked to Thuo Githinji of BCLB and his story is that it can only be told face-to-face. BCLB does not have a working email and the director cannot conduct interviews through the phone. I find that hard to work with.

Nation Media Group supported the 6969 lottery, KTN’s Kwachu MamiliCitizen  Zawadi 2929 and now they are soon launching the Citizen Chapaa. A blogger covered the law governing betting and also the jurisdiction of the BCLB on these here. Whatever the case, the increase in the number of SMS lotteries and the ease of access if dangerous to the fabric of the society. We will have more kids getting into gambling addiction and when the media is at the forefront of exploiting the gullibility of a society, it is sickening. Something is seriously wrong when the few rich people controlling the media now start exploiting us through SMS lotteries they are using to raise money for bribing voters in the upcoming 2012 general elections.

BCLB says that the ban on SMS lotteries were not lifted and I have just talked to a Ms Lenah at KACC because I couldn’t reach Mr Simani and PLO Lumumba. But there are information that KACC is still investigating the individuals at BCLB. In the absence of quick resolve of this, Citizen TV, NTV, KTN and many radio stations are using that to exploit the poor Kenyans and spreading the cancer of gambling addiction.

Someone should really stop this very fast or we would forever be exploited by the few people who are henchmen of politicians and run media companies who in turn run such lotteries. The society they claim to speak for, they now exploit with abandon. When you see some reporters and newscasters shed stupid tears on how Kenyans are suffering then they go on and initiate such programs, something is seriously wrong.

Written by Robert

Robert Alai is a respected Kenyan blogger, technical evangelist, and social justice activist. Robert is known for his hard-hitting articles and opinions disseminated through his Twitter handle or Facebook page. he is the founder of KahawaTungu.

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