Features and Opinions
Ban on Sports betting: Livelihood of youth at risk?
Bechem United President, Kingsley Owusu Achau, says a total ban on betting on the Ghana Premier League (GPL) is the only means to eradicate match-fixing in the top flight.
Achau insisted that if the Ghana Football Association (GFA) was serious about stamping out match manipulations in the domestic league, then it should consider making it illegal to use its product for betting.
According to him, manipulation of the outcome of games still persists in Ghana football and the only way to eliminate it is to follow the example of muslim countries by imposing a ban on the use of the local league by the betting companies for their activities.
We have not been able to stamp it out so I made a proposal that the FA could ban it so that no one can use our product as it is done in some muslim nations such as The Sudan and some other places where you cannot use their league for betting,” he added.
Almost all muslim majority countries ban betting on religious grounds. The United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Brunei, Somalia, Sudan, Egypt, Indonesia, Qatar, and Lebanon all have an official ban except in casinos.
There are roughly 60 million Nigerians aged between 18 and 40 involved in active betting, according to research firm, Research and Markets. The Gaming industry in Nigeria is $126 million and rising. This has also attracted many a youth to venture.
According to the World Bank’s 6th Ghana Economic Update titled “Preserving the future: rising to the youth employment challenge,” released in July 2022, Ghana’s youth has grown rapidly and now represents 36 per cent of the population.
The economy’s strong growth performance in the past 30 years has however not delivered enough jobs for them, it adds
The National Population Census in 2021 found that approximately three-quarters of unemployed adults were ‘young’.
The report notes further that while governments have created multiple policies and programmes to address youth unemployment over the years, the many programmes aimed at helping the youth have often fallen short of the massive needs.
Available data on the number of Ghanaians involved in sports betting is from research on Internet penetration in Ghana published in September 2022 by Hootsuite and We Are Social – two of the globally recognised social media management platforms.
The study says Ghana’s Internet population stood at 16.99 million, constituting 53 per cent of the total population as of the first quarter of 2022.
The research also found that about a 11.18 million people in Ghana used the Internet to access sports betting sites, 10.79 million used it to access news sites, 10.68 million for social media sites while only 2.57 million used it to visit informational sites.
In May last year, two premier league clubs, Inter Allies and Ashanti Gold were demoted for playing a fixed match.
Apparently, some leaders and players of these two clubs connived to place bets on the match and expected a particular score line.
Subsequently, investigators found out the act after intercepting WhatsApp messages of some of those involved and meted out punishments accordingly.
Not forgetting our own Ghana Premier League where pundits and punters converge on any match they have an interest in and place bets to win some cash. Bettors and punters in the country, comprising many of the youth, have taken to sports betting to fend for themselves, their wives and children and others their families.
The call now to ban this business will not only impact the lives of many youth in the country but adversely affect the economy of the country.
The Graphic Business met up with three punters at Russia, near Dansoman a suburb of Accra to know their take on the ban.
These three, known by their first names, Akwasi, Neequaye and Kotey, told the Graphic Business that their livelihoods and that of their families will be greatly affected should the Gaming Commission, which regulates these betting companies, goes ahead to ban the activity.
Sometimes, in a week, I can win between 2000 and 4000 Ghana cedis and that takes my kids to school, gives my wife ‘’chop money’’ for the week and takes care of my sick mother,” Neequaye told the Graphic Business.
Banning these sports betting business will also see the loss of jobs of employees who work at these betting sites who again are mostly the youth and the socially marginalised in the country.
There are many betting companies that has flooded the length and breadth of the country. Namely Supabet, BetKings, Betway, Bet365, 22bet among others.
Their contributions to the economy are yet to be fully assessed and quantified.
But on the surface of it, they contribute their quota to the economy of the country. It is gainsaying to acknowledge their presence, importance and value in our current generation. Their vices should be curbed and excesses must be checked. However, a wholesale ban will throw the youth back into the streets for all sorts of deviant behaviour and bad tendencies. Those calling for the ban on sports betting must think again and appreciate a broader view of its existence in contemporary modern life.
What is sports betting business?
Let’s start by explaining what it is all about for those who may not be conversant with the sports betting business.
This is a business where punters can place bets on various sporting events. It can be an online venture through a betting exchange or a bookmaker.
As a way of diversification, the business can be offered alongside other services such as providing tips to those who will bet.
From the onset, it is essential to know that the business can be very lucrative and risky at the same time.
Over the past decade, many youth have found solace in sports betting and making a living out of it. On Saturdays and Sundays or Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in Ghana, many youth throng betting sites, cinema halls and other places they could find to watch either the English Premier League, Spanish La-Liga, French Ligue 1 or the Bundes Liga.
Those calling for the ban on sports betting must rethink their position and rather opt for the enforcement of the law that prevents those below 18 years from betting.
The authorities must also tighten the various mechanisms to avoid manipulation.
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