A Comprehensive Look Into The Dangers Of Sports Betting For Your Family

  1. Are you playing the games daily, weekly, monthly or all year long?

  2. What are your goals while wagering on the games?

  3. Do you know exactly the amount of profits you have made or lost since you started?

  4. Is this a hobby, or do you count on winning money?

  5. Do you pick out games or wager on anything you can find?

A few months ago a friend of mine who like all of us struggles with the daily grind of trying to make ends meet in this harsh Kenyan economy asked me a question. Our kids were born months apart and he was feeling the strain on his measly salary; diapers, food, rent, diapers, wify’s hair, phone costs, diapers, food etc. True, his wife’s work supplemented his salary but not nearly enough. He’d spent sleepless nights agonizing over how to make an extra buck. Two loans geared towards farming came to naught when his crops failed and paying them off only added to his expenses. He was dying financially and he needed a way out. We all did. Still do in fact.

He started a movie selling business that was the clutched straw of this drowning man and fate had it that by some miracle it just managed to get him to shore. Through sheer willpower, strength and a total goodbye to sleep for the foreseeable future, the movies begin selling and once more it wasn’t as big a struggle to feed his family.

When he came to me about sports betting, that’s very recently taken the Kenyan football fanatic crowd by storm, I can’t say I was surprised. We’d sealed our bond of friendship over our absolute love for The Gunners and the resultant resentment of that idiot Arsene Wenger (woosah…) He was an unapologetic fan and so was our circle of friends. As someone thoroughly knowledgeable of the world of football, who’d made very astute predictions over the course of various popular leagues, he would have made a killing betting on winning teams.


Knowing, from movies mostly, there was an intrinsic danger that came with gambling, especially in an addiction prone nation (functional alcoholism anyone???), I was very worried about the rise in popularity of sports betting. Some of my friends in Uni had gotten into a bit of trouble over it but that had been nothing on the scale of this grand technological awakening. I wondered if this parent friend of mine was gambling secrelty, obviously knowing I would NEVER approve. Turns out he wasn’t.

When he decided to start, he came to me for advice. I knew I couldn’t stop him, he is an adult after all, so I sought only to create regulations in collaboration with him that included his wife, that he could use to avoid falling into the trap of addiction.

What, do you think I should trust him more? After all, I don’t regulate his alcohol intake. So why is gambling so worrying?

How easy is it really to develop a gambling addiction?

In the days of old, and it wasn’t even that long ago, you would have to actually go into a brick-and-mortar sports’ book or call a bookie to place sports wagers (you still can). It took a little effort. For those of you who made bets in a book, you would usually get all your bets figured out, go to the book, and let the chips fall where they may. And you’d usually place one call to the bookie. Now, it’s almost too easy. With online wagering, you literally don’t even have to get out of bed to place wagers. It offers an undeniable convenience, but there’s a flip side to that coin.

Research has shown that easy access to gambling results in an exponential increase in reports of gambling addiction. With temptation around every corner, or rather, always in hand, it is easy for a person to start gambling and not acknowledge the scope of the problem until the compulsion has ruined the person’s life.

How do you know when it’s become a problem?

spors betting

Medical professionals will often only classify a problem as compulsive or pathological gambling if it is independent of other disorders. The person has to exhibit at least five of the following symptoms to be diagnosed with a compulsive gambling disorder:

  • Preoccupation with gambling
  • Needing to place increasingly larger wagers to get a rush
  • Restlessness or irritability when trying to stop gambling
  • Gambling to escape or to improve the person’s mood
  • Trying to win back gambling losses with more gambling
  • Lying about the extent of gambling activities
  • Losing control of the gambling habit
  • Engaging in illegal acts to support a gambling habit
  • Risking significant damage to relationships
  • Seeking financial assistance from friends and family to support gambling activities


  1. Are you playing the games daily, weekly, monthly or all year long?

  2. What are your goals while wagering on the games?

  3. Do you know exactly the amount of profits you have made or lost since you started?

  4. Is this a hobby, or do count on winning money?

  5. Do you pick out games or wager on anything you can find?

These questions are important because they could be what saves you from a never ending cycle of addiction that causes your family and friends unnecessary pain.


Effects on family and children?

  1. Money Problems: The most common problem is the loss of money. Savings, property or belongings may suddenly be lost. This kind of money crisis makes the family feel scared, angry and betrayed.
  2. Emotional problems: Gambling problems cause strong feelings. Family members may feel ashamed, hurt, afraid, angry, confused and distrustful. These feelings make it harder to solve problems. The person who gambles may even deny that there is a problem.
  3. Isolation: 
    • Many partners do not want to be emotionally or physically close with the person who has hurt them.
    • Many people affected by gambling problems avoid other people, because they feel ashamed. This makes it hard to get love and support.
    • Friendships may end because of unpaid debts.
  4. Physical and Mental health: The stress of gambling problems sometimes causes health problems, for both the person who gambles and the family. This can include anxiety, depression and stress-related problems such as poor sleep, ulcers, bowel problems, headaches and muscle pains.
  5. Burnout: Many families under stress have trouble coping. One member may try to keep things in control by taking on more tasks. This can lead to burnout. Family members often focus on the person with gambling problems, and forget to take care of themselves or to have fun.
  6. On Children? When a parent or caregiver has a gambling problem, children can feel forgotten, depressed and angry. They may believe they caused the problem and that, if they are “good,” the problem will stop. Some children take care of younger brothers or sisters, or try to support their parent. This responsibility causes children stress.Children may also believe they must take sides between their parents. They may stop trusting a parent who makes promises he or she doesn’t keep. They may steal from the parent or get in trouble at school. Some children may try to draw attention away from the parent with the gambling problem, by:
    • using alcohol or other drugs
    • gambling
    • breaking the law.

    It is important to help children understand that the family’s problems are not their fault. Children need to return to a safe and balanced home life and a normal childhood. Family or individual counselling can help children deal with these changes

  7. Physical and Emotional abuse: Family violence is more common when families are in crisis. Gambling problems can lead to physical or emotional abuse of a partner, elder parent or child. Children may be hurt due to pent-up anger.
  8. Suicide: Rates of suicide are higher for people who gamble excessively, and for their family members. The people most likely to attempt suicide are those who also have a mental health problem (such as depression: addicts are more prone to depression and anxiety as a result of their gambling, especially after big losses) or who use alcohol or other drugs. People who have threatened suicide or hurt themselves in the past are also more at risk.

We are the first generation that have been able to basically transform our homes into casinos with the advent of online gaming. Gambling became a problem for people who sometimes had to travel miles in order to do it. It’s important to acknowledge the heightened concern of this problem with the added immediacy of being able to do it online.


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