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Daily Bread: More Zimbabweans Turn to Gambling

Harare - Young jobless Zimbabweans are turning to gambling spots for solace and source of livelihood, risking addiction, in a country with ...

Harare - Young jobless Zimbabweans are turning to gambling spots for solace and source of livelihood, risking addiction, in a country with an official 11 percent unemployment and whose economy continues to take a major dive.

Unregistered betting shops are sprouting, targeting innocent punters who risk losing their hard-earned cash. Registration is done by the Lotteries and Gaming board. Other registered establishments comprise Africa Bet, VegasBet and Soccer Shop. 
The influx of gaming operators also convinced Harare to cease issuing operational licenses in 2015, though figures were not availed.

“We need to control betting, because we can’t be betting everywhere. There are too many operators,” Kembo Mohadi, Minister of Home Affairs mentioned to the media at a recent briefing.

Online betting has enabled punters to place wagers via smart phones while other outlets are installing computers to ease online gambling. Gamblers are spending more time at the tout instead of finding work in an already chronic economy.

From dog and horse racing to European soccer – punters take aim to win a stake to feed their obsessions plus everyday needs. Idle youths eager to eke a living, frequent nearby gambling spots daily, creating a culture of laziness and addiction, prompting campaigns to alert punters.

Confronted with a spiral in gambling statistics, the Zimbabwe Responsible Gambling Association (Zirega) has rolled out a campaign: “Keep calm and spend wisely.” Zirega is using treatment and counselling problem gamblers and their immediate families members, prevention and training, public awareness and education to minimise the habit.
Gambling has Become a Lifestyle for many Zimbabweans
“Previously, betting was more common among older generations, but technological innovation and unemployment has attracted youths who fancy their chances applying their vast computer knowledge. But there is need for self-control to manage spending and earnings to avoid addiction,” cautions social commentator, Clarence Hungwe.

Zimbabwe sports gaming has peaked in the past three years, as groups of self-anointed bookmakers offer assistance to novice players for a commission while some pool resources to share risks on stakes.

Claudius Jack, 24, has a gambling background. His father was a serial horse punter. Now, he mentors aspiring players.

“When I lost my job, I knew I had somewhere to fall on. I wake up every day to place my bets and help others, that’s how I survive. Though I win occasionally, it is better than nothing at all,” said Claudius.

Indigenous local gambling operator, Africa Bet, manages 53 outlets countrywide, employing about 400 personnel and plans to venture into neighbouring Zambia. One suburban outlet generates around $2 000 (R28 000) daily while payouts may peak at $500 (R7 000).

Africa Bet employee, Melody Kunaka, told Africa Daily that gaming has become more than an amusement, but a source of livelihood for patrons.

“As soon as we open, unemployed men of all ages troop in to spend their day. It has become a form of livelihood. Some believe its easy money and are lazy to work. Even professional people spend their day betting, saying there is no work,” says Melody.

Lately, women have invaded gambling outlets with one recently scooping a $1 600 (R22 400) prize. National record jackpot is $30 000 (R420 000).

Fortune tellers have joined the gaming craze, peddling lucky charms to improve odds. Portions mixed with “eagle body parts” – a bird gifted with sharp eyesight are yielding handsome returns for the healers.

Though betting is creating employment, it has promoted laziness as some refuse to work, preferring to spend the day gambling and begging, adds Melody, the betting employee.

In other parts of Africa,like Nigeria, there are 60 million Nigerians aged 18 to 40 devote around $9 million (R126 million) daily on sports betting – nearly half of their $20 million (R280 million) fuel expenditure. 

Betting companies generate around $100 000 (R1,4 million) monthly, while $35 000 (R490 000) is used for payouts. - Africa Daily

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