Unemployed Ghanaians Turn To Gambling For Livelihood

The unemployment situation in the country has caused many unemployed youths to resort to sports betting as their source of livelihood. The rising phenomenon among the youth, the Business Day Ghana gathered, is as a result of the difficulty in finding good paying jobs that would enable them support themselves and their families. With the arrival of various betting companies and the country’s current economic hardships, some unemployed youths have now turned their love for the various sports disciplines into money making avenues. Due to the high patronage of sports betting services, betting companies such as superbet, safaribet, mybet.com and premier betting are continuously expanding their operations to meet the increasing demand. With the large patronage of betting services, various outlets of these betting houses, across major business centers in Accra, are constantly fully packed with young gamblers (between 20 years and 40 years) busily staking their bets. Despite the humid conditions at these betting centers, caused by faulty air conditioners, youths spend long hours awaiting their turn to stake. Some of the young men, who spoke to Business Day, said that though they were unhappy with the conditions within the betting floors,they had no option but to endure the conditions since their sources of livelihood depended on the place. Kwame Kyei, a University of Ghana student, told Business Day that betting had helped him cater for his needs while in school. “I am in school now, so I use the money I get to cater for myself. The betting business is a high risk, high gaining venture, I don’t always win so the once I win I manage the money very well’’. “I usually stake two cedis and above, depending on my pocket, and if I am lucky, I win one out of about four slips” he explained. Despite his fears of being addicted to betting, he says he takes solace in the fact that he was not engaging in any illegal business since betting is considered legal in Ghana. He has won GHC1, 430 so far. Mohammed Yussif, who has been betting for the past three years, also told Business Day that he quit internet fraud, “Sakawa”, after a near arrest and has since been an ardent fan of sports betting. To him, the business was a good one since it contributes to the development of the country through taxes paid by betting companies. “I used to engage in internet fraud for which I nearly got arrested, I have since taken to sport betting, and the state also makes money since the companies pay taxes to the state,’’ he opined. Though majority of the youth who spoke to Business Day say they hope for better paying jobs in future, they were quick to add that, in the interim, they would stick to sport betting for survival. Although successive governments have tried to minimize unemployment in the country, the situation still exists among the population, especially the youth force of the country.