NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 7 – Victor Chandler, often referred to as the ‘Godfather of Gambling’ has arrived in the country with his entry to the Kenyan gaming market likely to shake up the industry if his business acumen is anything to go by.
The 67-year-old British bookmaker, credited for revolutionizing gaming and betting by taking it online in 1997, is said to have docked in Kenya and is busy setting up the business.
Chandler could launch a betting firm in Kenya imminently according to industry sources in the United Kingdom.
He built up gaming firm BetVictor, which is now the official training kit sponsor of English Premier League giants Liverpool before selling it in 2014.
By the time he sold BetVictor, the online betting firm was serving over 160 countries with an annual turnover of billions of dollars.
It looks the gambling bug that bit him when he took over his father’s business as a 22-year-old has nudged him on to Kenya.
The man industry reviewers also refer to as the Indiana Jones of Gambling is understood to be keen to set up another gaming empire in Kenya, under BetLion, with an eye on the larger African market.
BetLion has taken the Ugandan market by storm – sponsoring the national football team and becoming a dominant operator with its reputation for competitive odds and instant payments. Sources indicate the firm is already hiring Kenyans to run the entity ready for launching in Kenya.
Spencer Okach, a marketing expert who has helped several betting firms in Kenya launch their business is rumored to be putting final touches on BetLion operations.
When contacted, however, Okach declined to confirm or refute the reports on Chandler’s arrival in the Kenyan market via BetLion.
“Yes, I played a big part in its successful launch in Uganda and the business is going from strength to strength. As for Kenya, his is a big market and obviously it is on BetLion’s radar,” Okach said but preferred to hold cards close to his chest regarding BetLion’s entry into Kenya.
If indeed Chandler is to set up shop in Kenya, then competition in the gaming industry is set to move a notch higher.
Chandler will probably have to roll up his sleeves backed by his personal net worth of over Sh 19 billion (£150million), know-how and his immense worldwide connection to bite off a chunk of Kenya’s gaming pie.
He turned BetVictor into the first fully functional online sportsbook, attracting people from all over the world. Without Victor Chandler, it is unlikely online betting would exist as it does.
And by 2009, Sunday Times ranked Chandler 362nd in Britain’s rich list with an estimated fortune of £150 million.
In a recent interview with the Telegraph, Chandler narrates his long journey to the top and how as a 22-year-old lad when his father succumbed to cancer, all family responsibilities were placed on his shoulders.
Years down the line Chandler looks set to enter the Kenyan market. He will need a strong back with his acclaimed work ethic to break into the Kenyan market that already has giants SportPesa and Betin.
Kenya boasts one of the highest numbers of internet users in the world and it will be interesting to see how Chandler sways this online community to his advantage as he did in the United Kingdom.
When internet gained popularity in 1997, he quickly took his business online a move that would prove a master-stroke.
Industry reviewers say Chandler hardly plays a wrong card in his business moves. He was among the first gamblers to take their businesses offshore, to Gibraltar, following Britain’s decision to increase taxation to 9 percent.
It appears that Kenya is his next chapter.