Checks carried out by the Child Rights International (CRI) have revealed that about 50 per cent of people who patronise sports betting centres in the country are children.
The children are found at these centres between four and 10 pm on week days and from 9a.m. to 1p.m. on weekends, it said.
The Executive Director of CRI, Mr Bright Appiah, who spoke to the Junior Graphic, noted that the situation was quite disturbing since the practice was wrongly creating the impression to children that gambling was an easy way to make money.
He said the CRI realised that some of the centres in Accra, Kumasi, Tamale and Kasoa did not have any regulations whatsoever to guide the activities of the children.
“The situation is more or less as though the floodgates have been opened for these children to gamble. The motive of doing this is purely based on making more money and so there is no social interest in respect of the children’s welfare,” he said.
Mr Appiah said by law, children are not supposed to engage in such activities, adding that in the developed countries, children are strictly prohibited from those centres.
Section 48 of the Gaming Act, 2006 (Act 721) says that “A person responsible for a gambling machine shall not permit a child to use the gambling machine or to enter a place where the gambling machine is operated”.
Mr Appiah noted that the Gaming Commission, which grants licenses to betting centres, should be interested in the conduct and operations of the centres, especially with regard to how they protect the rights of children.
Steps, he said, must be taken to punish operators who allow children to engage in betting since the betting centres are breeding grounds for cultivating all manner of habits.
He said there was the need for the Gaming Commission to set up a monitoring unit to check the activities of the centres regularly so that they do not flout the laws of the country but uphold the rights of children and protect them.
A detailed research being carried out by the CRI on the centres across the country, he said, was expected to end this year, after which it would come out with its final report.
Mr Appiah stressed that parents had a major role to play in protecting children by monitoring their activities.
The objective of the Gaming Commission is to regulate, control, monitor and supervise the operations of games of chance in the country. Fifteen sports betting companies with outlets across the country have so far been granted licenses in the country.