To bet or not to bet, that’s not the question


British, he used to bet annually on his country’s most famous horse race, The Grand National; but generally, NO.

In the UK this was for what he considered to be ‘ethical’ and financial reasons: betting and indeed all forms of gambling are, for him, risky and pointless.

Statistically you’re never going to win anything, or at least are almost always only going to win less than you have cumulatively spent on gambling, and this is money which, over time, might in a small way have contributed towards more useful savings.

The expatriate in Kenya wonders: ‘If every poorer Kenyan citizen who spends 200+ shillings a month on betting were to instead save this into a pension, we wouldn’t have to increasingly privatise health or education, and the old wouldn’t have to live in penury, as the State would have money to fund these services’. But there we are, and the expatriate is ignored.

In Kenya, his reasons for not gambling are similar, and it’s not always clear whether they’re generous and thoughtful on the one hand, or patronising on the other. When in doubt, it’s reasonable to assume that the latter is the case with the expatriate.

Basically, he’s wealthy. In relation to the average Kenyan, the expatriate is richer than Solomon (although, admittedly, less wise) because, as we all know, even if he’s the employed rather than the employee, his salary is ten times that of his Kenyan counterparts, even though he usually doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing at work and spends every office hour thinking about deep-sea fishing or lion wrestling. Having cash, he feels it would somehow be ‘beneath him’ to stand at a kiosk and scrape away at endless scratchcards with a 50-cent coin he’s kept since 1998.

That’s the snooty, self-satisfied expatriate, and he may be dismissed by all of us as an immoral imbecile. He simply thinks himself ‘better’.

Then there’s the liberal expatriate, whose conscience might be more admirable. He believes that the poor disproportionately gamble, that they generally lose, and that they become poorer as a consequence, sometimes becoming addicted; he believes that gambling gives a pathetically shallow form of false ‘hope’ to people, and as a consequence is cruel, and is indeed a symptom of the failure of the State to adequately provide for, especially, the poor, but indeed all of us; he believes that betting companies are almost exclusively profit-hungry firms with very little in the way of primary desire to benefit society. And so on.

As that incomparable sage Kenny Rogers told us, ‘You’ve got to...know when to walk away’. Poor, neglected Saint Kenny.

However, as the expatriate speaks his moral-mindedness, his Kenyan colleague is, perhaps understandably, utterly ignoring him as she M-Pesa’s another seventy shillings to the latest lottery competition.

I bet you’ve seen this yourself.