Betting with the future of our youth
Recently, the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Rt Rev. Prof. Joseph Obiri Yeboa Mante, had cause to draw the nation’s attention to the pervasive nature of sports betting among the youth and the propensity to get them addicted to it.
Dedicating the Daniel Ntow Obese Children and Youth Resource Centre for the Unity Presbyterian Congregation at Nkanfoa in Cape Coast, he said the phenomenon was “worrying” and charged the government, religious and opinion leaders to work hard to reverse the trend.
This is not the first time the call is being made.
Similar concerns have been expressed publicly by some religious leaders on the need to discourage betting because it is making the youth lazy.
The fact of the matter is that it appears betting among the youth is currently being normalised within the Ghanaian society, as a drive through communities reveals many betting centres dotted around.
These betting centres are crowded with the youth, who, in a frenzy, wager a few pesewas and cedis with the expectation of winning big.
For betting companies, the Daily Graphic wonders whether the safety and the proper development of the youth is of concern to them.
They owe our youth no duty of care, as they (betting companies) are fixated on profiteering from the vulnerabilities of our youth.
Are these overcrowded betting centres insured to take care of any accidents such as fires and stampedes should they occur?
Are we to assume that those at the helm of affairs at the Gaming Commission and the various ministries, under whose purview betting operations fall, are oblivious of this growing trend among the youth?
Given that the latest figures from the Ghana Statistical Service show that Ghana’s population age structure is transitioning from one dominated by children under 14 years to one dominated by the youth (15-35 years), we think that the government must be frantically up and about with interventions for their development and create jobs for them.
A dearth of interventions for the youth, in the economy, in recreation, health and employment is pushing them into betting.
Interestingly, the Gaming Commission that directly supervises such betting activities in the country, and which has billboards across the country states on these notices that betting is addictive and not for anyone bellow 18 years.
Even a cursory observation of these betting centres shows that they are filled with the youth and sometimes children.
It is known that betting companies are capitalising on the country’s passion for sports, and the youth bet on international sports icons in the hope of winning.
Policy must guide this process, as children and the youth must not be cast into an environment of betting.
The Gaming Commission has failed Ghanaians and the government too if betting is now a viable option for the youth to the point of they becoming addicted.
The Daily Graphic believes that policies to open up more and better opportunities for the youth such as skills and vocational training must be scaled up.
Apart from that, the Ministry of Youth and Sports must also open up opportunities in that sector for our youth.
Local authorities must up their game by ensuring that the youth in their respective localities spend their time profitably, either in well-resourced community centres or on astro-turfs, honing their skills in sports.
But more importantly, the Gaming Commission must walk the beat.
The commission which is a regulator must undertake educational campaigns that promote responsible betting beyond the normal clichés associated with television and radio commercials.
Finally, churches, mosques, schools, parents and guardians must ensure that their youth followers, children or wards do not fall victim to this social vice.
Every well-meaning citizen of the nation who is mindful of the future of the youth must be concerned and should let his or her voice be heard.
We must act now to prevent the youth wagering off their future for pittances.