Lapaz youth perspectives on Sports Betting in Ghana

By Jeremiah Nutsugah

In Ghana and many other African countries, sports betting was once a taboo topic due to its perceived immorality. However, the Ghanaian passion for European football, including the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, and other global football leagues, has given rise to the prominence of sports betting in Ghana especially Lapaz Community.

While this zeal for European soccer games traditionally involved mainly the elderly, today, the youth dominate this arena. The surge in sports betting among the youth is attributed to the global liberalization of sports betting through pervasive advertisements. Media and advertising companies portray sports betting as profitable, glamorous, fashionable, and sensual, luring many youths into the betting world.

Despite the widespread dissemination of sports betting through media advertisements, its proliferation into every corner of Ghana has occurred without strict enforcement of existing gaming laws by the government or security operatives. Many youths engage in sports betting, some at the expense of their well-being, although others manage to earn a living from it.

The Gaming Commission of Ghana holds the primary authority over sports betting and related activities in the country. Responsible for issuing licenses to betting companies and gaming operators, some of the registered entities include Betway, Soccerbet, Sporty Bet, Safari bet, 1Xbet, Betpawa, Powerbet, among others.

However, the growing prevalence of sports betting has prompted some leaders to call for a ban, citing concerns about its impact on the work ethic of the youth. Hassan Ayariga, the founder and leader of the All People’s Congress (APC), has declared his intention to ban sports betting if elected president, asserting that it fosters laziness among the Ghanaian youth.

Similarly, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, the majority leader in parliament, has voiced his opposition to sports betting, stating that it does not encourage hard work but rather promotes idle activities that corrupt the youth.

However, not all share this view. A serial bettor known as LilMoGh refuted the argument that betting is solely for lazy individuals. He built his house from betting winnings, emphasizing the hard work and determination required for his success.

The recent introduction of a 10% tax on bet and lottery winnings sparked further debate. LilMoGh, defending his perspective, highlighted the effort he invests in providing winning odds for others, challenging the notion that betting is a lazy job.

Many youth in Lapaz engaging in sports betting assert that it is not solely due to unemployment but also serves as a way to pass the time. Some argue that betting provides them with opportunities to make money, presenting a preferable alternative to criminal activities like theft.

According to one Bettor called Big Joe, disclosed that, “ I bet because I don’t want to engage in criminal activities because am unemployed, there’s no job. If the government can solve unemployment it will solve the problem of sports betting at Lapaz community.”

James stated that, instead of the government to ban it completely, he just placed a tax on betting to benefit him. Truly speaking am very addicted to sports betting, and the more I bet I more I lose even though sometimes I win huge sum of money which later I used it to bet again.

Speaking to one guy who is in the University(undisclosed), Selasi, stated that, “ I used my school fees to play sports betting when I was fresh at the university. I nearly took my life because my mum is not someone who is having enough money, so I was disturbed. Later I borrowed money to pay my fees and later I worked to pay the person. I will say betting should be barb completely because it’s causing more harm than good.”

Adjei Richard, who is also I resident of Lapaz community, emphasized that, although he recently started betting it’s has not been easy, it’s slot of work to do. I think the government should not ban it because that’s what holding to get our daily bread. Some of us we take care of ourselves so bettings the means we use to take care of ourselves. I have won, and I have lost to so it’s a 50/50 game.

In the midst of these diverse perspectives, the question remains: Should sports betting be regulated, restricted, or banned altogether in Ghana? As the nation grapples with this dilemma, the impact of sports betting on the lives and choices of its youth of Lapaz continues to unfold.

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