A PROMINENT blogger has claimed that the booming sports betting industry in Africa is now one of the leading causes of poverty and break-ups in marriages and relationships across the continent.
Interest in sports betting has exploded in Zimbabwe.
Charles Onyango-Obbo, a leading Ugandan blogger, with a huge social media following, feels the rising popularity of the European leagues, especially the English Premiership, is to blame for the increase in gamblers chasing fortunes at the expense of their mental health and relationships.
Onayngo-Obbo claimed the African gambling market was worth a staggering US$37 billion, even though research shows it’s a fraction of that figure, and the biggest chunk comes from sports betting.
“It has its critics, but the growth of the European football leagues, especially the English Premier League, in Africa in the last 30 years has been nothing short of dizzying,” wrote Onyango-Obbo.
“In years to come, those who study the impact of sports will likely find that the legacy of the popularity of these leagues is the more dramatic – and harmful – emergence of sports betting.
“Sports betting firms have monetised the football craze in devilishly genius ways.
“Of the US$37 billion African gambling economy in 2022, sports betting accounted for the lion’s share.
“Varying by country, between 30 percent and 70 percent of the population of adult Africans are involved in sports betting.
“Addiction levels are high, and critics say sports betting is among the leading causes of poverty, and marriage/relationship break-ups in Africa today.”
He added: “Because far more men than women gamble, sports betting has a gender face, hitting males disproportionately.
“In five to 10 years, we could be reading that sports betting was the reason Africa lost the 2020s – and what sealed the decline of the African man.”
And, many Africans, appear to agree with him and here are some of their online responses:
“I agree. It’s getting serious. I do not know a friend who is addicted to EPL and who is not betting.
“Just the other day one was telling me how he made sh.2k when he bet with a friend.
“He was regretting not making the bet sh.10k. Betting and scamming are almost the same.”
“Betting, and gambling, are vices that should be burned and criminalised. They don’t contribute anything to society while living those who indulge in it miserable, anxious and stressed out.”
“You could say the same about drug and alcohol abuse. Like the aforementioned, sports betting only becomes dangerous without any regulatory power, be it mental or physical. Detailed sensitisation about its dangers together with a regulatory body to oversee the industry would help.”
“A good leader should ban sports betting and send all these people to the football pitch to win their cups. Then use spare time to be productive in cottage industries.”
“As an African living in Australia you haven’t seen anything yet. Australian men are the most addicted gamblers in the world. Africa stop this before it’s too late. 100s of me commit suicide in Australia each year over gambling debt.”
“I know of about three relatives who have dropped out of school and lost jobs due to betting. God have mercy on Africa.”