Many folks are joining captivating and addictive gambling that could cause psychological harm, and regardless of media disparage against its negativities, a lot of people prefer to bet on sports that have got its broad ways heading to Ethiopia a decade ago.
Since 2017, some 30 betting shops have opened doors across Ethiopia. However, lately, owing to it to the mounting pressure, the government has disallowed entries and decided to withhold issuing new licenses. It vowed at least to penalize companies that violate age restrictions. Juvenile betting is a felonious offense in Ethiopia. Yet, betting fans mostly aged between 14 to 50 years are known to actively smear into the hurtful fun.
Though resonates in recent years, however, since 2012 there were some 60 betting firms that have been licensed to operate in Ethiopia. Half of those managed to get into business while 14 are in the process to open shops. Betting firms are trying to shield their line of business and conceivably striving to curtail others from entering into the budding market. Some are bombarding target groups with tempting commercials to sway bettors can win as much as 10 million birr (around USD 334,000) at one go. What makes betting more compelling could be a peer pressure; that telling lucky stories of modest wins and loosen chances to win lofty prizes. The instant prize money could incite folks. The tempting stories of betting could sway not only the affluent ones but economically challenged individuals are the most rigorous gamblers on the odds.
Fisseha Hailu, 33, is a well-known addict around his neighborhood, around KolfeAtena Terra in Addis Ababa. He recalls how he was fortunate to win a prize when he was so desperate and had nothing to pay for hospital bills for his newborn child a few months ago. At that critical time, he won 25,000 birr as a betting prize and that helped him cover expenses and bills. For months, Fisseha absorbedly betted on European football teams and liked betting pretty much. However, it was too late when he wakes up to realize how deep he was lured in betting on football. He spends several hours a day as if that is the only thing he must worry about. The worst effect finally caught Fisseha that he has to receive a termination letter from his employer. He was laid-off and told not to be bothered about getting back to his job. He used to work as a full-timer for a private freight forwarding and clearing agency.
Fisseha is not alone. There is a growing number of people that are facing hardships due to their growing habits of betting. Many could end up being easily trapped before they could realize how it works and the slender probabilities of winning for bigger slashes. Learning the incidents and growing concerns, recent media criticisms have influenced both betting firms and the government to open up and speak about the industry.
Last month, a group of betting firms have joined the National Lottery Administration, the regulating organ and held a press conference. Both have defended sports betting being a legitimate business. They argued there is nothing wrong with it. They couldn’t, however, deny that some shops didn’t uphold some legal requirements such as age limits. Underage betting is widespread. After school and after work hours betting is remotely applied in Ethiopia.
Arguably football is a popular sport that numerous energetic fans favor to watch European matches. Many folks have passions about many things, but they could grow bizarre if it is all about football and that’s where the traps induce scores to join betting easily.
Since, the launching of the Digital Satellite Television (DSTV) in Sub-Sahara Africa to broadcast satellite services in 1995, things have changed, and these broadcasters have managed to stimulate many football fanatics by providing access for live transmitted European matches. The English Premier League, the Spanish La Liga and to some extent the Italian Serie A, the French League or the Bundesliga games have been able to influence and create mass viewership in Ethiopia.
Once, the ethos of watching European football has expanded and cemented, sports betting was able to smooth its way. To help to spread sports betting quick, well-known businesses are now tracking on the games so that they could toil for more profits. The likes of Habesha, Vamos, Axum, Hulu Sport, Bet 250, Abyssinia, are some of the firms that have managed to charm as many regulars as possible and managed to secure the lion’s share in the market. Few have expanded branches across the country. According to the National Lottery, some companies have managed to open 80 to 100 betting shops.
Anyone aged above 18 can join betting and with the least deposit of 20 birr at any preferred game, bettors can maintain a chance to win up to 500,000 birr. Some shops advertise to bettors that they could win as much as 10 million birrs from betting and that attracts more to join.
The National Lottery stated that these shops have helped the administration to make revenuesup to 15 percent of their earnings collected through the National Lottery. It is claimed that some six million birr is generated from betting. A 20 percent more is said to be contributed for social donations and 15 as a lottery income tax, deductible from winners.
Betting is a legitimate business across the world, and it has been expanding across Africa. However, underage betting stirs apparent socioeconomic problems. A BBC Africa documentary aired recently on Uganda, for instance, exhibited how some university students have been forced to commit suicides after losing tuition fees in betting. Some have dropped courses and even delayed graduation because of financial hardships. These problems soon are likely to be experienced in Ethiopia as betting is getting popularized across sports-loving youth.
“We have licensed betting firms that fulfilled legal requirements. We will evaluate their operations”, Tewedros Neway head of communications with the National Lottery Administration told The Reporter Magazine.
“We are receiving a lot of complaints about betting and we have formed a committee to assess the activities of betting shops. Hence, based on the outcomes the assessment, we will consider taking actions”, Tewedros said.
Yet until the regulator vets the betting shops, the likes of a cab driver working for Ride, a taxi-hailing company that didn’t want to reveal his name, is feeling the burns. He regularly bets on his favorite team allotting up to 2,000 birr in a week. However, he is facing financial hitches and betting has brought a mess to his married life.
“Betting has not only impacted me personally. It has impacted my marriage, too. When I lose for betting and get home, I feel down and behave so badly. Often, I ignore my wife. We keep fighting and arguing. She complains about my manners and that has disturbed our lives”; the driver voiced his frustrations.
Well, betting companies wage opposing views and tend to disregard the negativities that haunted many households. They lobby about their contributions and the jobs they have created. Betting firms swagger about millions of birrs they have paid in taxes.
Reports suggest that betting generates close to USD 40 billion in Africa mostly sourcing from Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa. That perhaps would mean that betting firms could not be brought down that easy as 200 million African youths aged between 15 and 24 love to bet on sports. With thriving digitization and smartphone penetrations, betting firms will stand strong and defiant against all allegations.