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CUEA student takes own life after losing Sh15,000 school fee in a bet

A university student died by suicide in Lang’ata, Nairobi on Wednesday 27 March after losing Sh15,000 in a bet.

The Catholic University of East Africa (CUEA) student, identified as Brian Ongwae, 22, was said to have made a bet of Sh15,000, which was meant for his school fees but lost the bet.

According to a police report, the deceased, who lived alone in Raila village in Langata constituency, placed the bet on Tuesday night and lost his money.

“The victim remained unsettled during the day on Wednesday and later locked himself inside his house and was heard talking to an unknown person,” police said.

When he didn’t come out, some neighbours told police that they went to check on him at his rented house only to find his lifeless body dangling from the roof.

Police officers processed the scene and later took the remains to the city morgue for an autopsy.

The deceased left a note for his mother, telling her to stay strong.

A Central Bank report in 2022 revealed that gambling addiction had become a major problem in society.

The Central Bank of Kenya identified Nakuru, West Pokot, Nyandarua, Busia, Trans Nzoia, Siaya and Nairobi counties as having the highest number of youth involved in betting and gambling activities.

According to the report, while all the above counties are above the national average of 11 per cent, Nakuru (25.6 per cent), West Pokot (25 per cent), Nyandarua (23.7 per cent) and Busia (22.3 per cent) are notorious for betting addiction.

Another research report, 2022 by MIT Technology Review, sheds light on the continued escalation of betting addiction in Kenya, particularly sports betting.

The ease of mobile money transactions and the widespread use of smartphones have fuelled the worrying rise in betting addiction across the country.

The problem was first recognised in the mid-2010s. Since then, Kenya has moved from dingy betting parlours to extensive online activity.

A GeoPoll survey found that 84% of young Kenyans surveyed had experimented with betting as part of their “hustling” to make more money easily. Of these, a third admitted to betting on a daily basis.

A significant proportion of Kenyans who bet show signs of gambling addiction, and technology has been a major driver of the sports betting phenomenon.