Ex-Gambling Addict, Rebuilds His Life After Losing Everything

The practic of betting popularly referred to as gambling has gained significant growth in the country as a majority of the youth actively chance their luck, due to the high rate of unemployment and joblessness.

The practice that has now become a norm rather than an exception, has taken hold of the young people who can easily access betting sites online, privately from the comfort of their homes even as the gambling multi-million-dollar business continues to churn out addicts and produce more losers than winners, thereby leaving the desperate youths more frustrated.

This is according to the Social Economic Empowerment Women Organization (SEWO) Managing Director Winnie Keter who also revealed that gambling addiction also disintegrated families and consigned many into abject poverty, while only profiting the betting companies.

SEWO Managing Director was speaking in Kericho during the launch of a movie dubbed “My Best Shot JP” whose theme centers around sensitizing the public on the need for responsible gambling and highlighting the effects of gambling and the significance of financial literacy.

Speaking to KNA, Nickson Obi, who was at the function with his team to entertain the guests with traditional songs, dances, and skits, said that gambling almost cost his life after he got addicted at an early age.

The 26-year-old man disclosed that he started gambling in 2013 just after joining high school and it gradually became a problematic addiction even as an adult.

“I started with local gambling like playing cards, which adversely affected my education since I frequently sneaked out of school to gamble to get some pocket money. It reached a point that I even stole part of the school fees to gamble without the knowledge of my parents,” – explained Obi.

He further explained that the few times he got lucky and won the bets, he used the money to indulge in drugs and alcohol and the extra money left was mainly capital for betting again.

“When I joined Egerton University to pursue a degree in automotive engineering, I continued gambling, I majored now on digital betting which I used at least Sh.500 a day but unfortunately, I always lost, and winning was rare and that frustrated me, even when I won, I spent all the money irresponsibly in alcohol” – added Obi.

After graduating and being employed, Obi got married and had a child, but the urge to engage in betting worsened with a huge portion of his salary used in betting which adversely affected his young family since he was unable to fend for them.

“We slept hungry several times due to lack of finances, we had to start selling some of the items in the house to get some money for our basic needs and finally we had nothing valuable, I lost everything, and that was my turning point. I had to seek help since I was sinking into depression,” – said Obi.

He sought the help of a professional counsellor and was advised to focus more on saving and investing rather than betting and that is how he gradually but surely overcame the gambling addiction and started to rebuild his life.

“I soon realized through investing and savings, my finances were gradually accumulating and I gambled with less money which I lost anyway, but I did not feel the effect of losing since I controlled my urge to bet,” – added Obi.

He revealed that he is currently engaged in performing arts which involves making traditional instruments and attire, as well as entertaining guests at events for which he earns at least Sh.7000 per event, and has since overcome his gambling addiction.

“I am currently on my second year since I completely stopped gambling, my family is doing well and I am focussing more on investing my money and building my family. I also quit using drugs and alcohol. I urge the youth to stop wasting their lives on gambling, drugs, and alcohol, I have been there, and those things have no benefit,” – said Obi.

Obi who has gone through the ups and downs of life as a gambling addict, now mentors youth within the slum areas and engages them in activities that will distract their attention from betting such as performing arts.

According to the Kericho County Director in charge of Vocational Education and Training Irene Ngeno, the County government was proactive in ensuring the jobless were equipped with hands-on skills through training to keep them from irresponsible gambling.

“Gambling has become a menace affecting mainly the youth aged between 18 and 34 years and the root cause of the problem is unemployment with the youth idle. That is why the county government has initiated a programme for the youth to undertake vocational training in our various vocational training centers. We have around 4000 youth already enrolled for various training courses such as hairdressing, carpentry, and masonry, among others,” – said Ngeno.

According to the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), the negative consequences of an individual’s gambling habits affect themselves and those around them and lead to issues such as severe debts and loss of property, strained relationships, health problems for both the gambler and family by promoting stress, anxiety, depression, and suicide ideation.

Source: kenyanews.go.ke

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