Alex Macharia, a Third Year Communication Studies student at Chuka University, has found himself trapped in a web of online gambling, a journey he started innocently but which has proved costly for him.
Macharia, enticed by the desire for quick riches, succumbed to the promise of easy money through online betting. It started with casual conversations among friends about how they were winning, and sometimes losing. In the end, he has cumulatively lost close to Sh600,000.
Records from the sites that Macharia uses show he has spent a total of Sh589,901 since joining on April 7, 2023. Shockingly, his total winnings from the schemes stood at only Sh7,604, as of November.
The betting craze has seen Macharia even use money meant for his school fees. He once gambled the Sh50,000 he received from his family for school fees and a hostel. He also used Sh8,000 meant for his shopping. He lost all the money to another betting site.
Desperate to recover losses, Macharia sold his TV at Sh18,500 and a laptop at Sh15,000. He lost the money through gambling.
"It all started with stories from friends who won money through betting. I decided to join because of the excitement of placing bets on sports events and online aviator games became a regular part of our conversations. The convenience of mobile betting apps made it. It is easy to indulge in these activities," Macharia said.
He added: "This intensified and so did the stakes. What began as a casual pastime activity soon evolved into what I would term as compulsive behaviour. The constant notifications from betting apps became a familiar soundtrack in my daily life, enticing me to place more bets in the hope of hitting the jackpot."
He even risked missing his end-of-semester exams in December 2023 due to betting. His income sources, including funds from his parents, a gaming business that has closed, and a watermelon business at home in Athi River, have all been drained by gambling.