In recent times, betting ‘spots’ have become common in our towns and cities. Indeed, most of these betting or gaming enterprises spring up in uncompleted buildings.
It is a common sight in the evenings to see the youth gathered in their numbers at such spots, actively involved in betting.
About two weeks ago, the Chairperson of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Ms Josephine Nkrumah, in an interview with the Daily Graphic, called for betting centres to be regulated.
According to her, betting and other vices picked up by the youth had “desensitised” them, making them think that “their wrong attitudes were the right way of expressing themselves.”
“All manner of betting centres dotted in every part of the country depict bad signals to us as a people, especially in a situation where the nation has allowed betting companies to operate without effective systems in place to regulate their activities,” she said.
The Gaming Commission, by Act 721, is supposed to regulate, control, monitor and supervise betting and gaming activities in the country.
Section 48 of Act 721 on Children states 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.
Anyone who allows a child to use a gaming machine or a child who use a gaming machine is liable under the act.
In Ghana, the Children’s Act 1998 (Act 560) also defines a child as anyone below 18 years.
A reading of the laws together shows that most of the patrons of betting centres are children or the youth.
The phenomenon of children and youth at betting ‘spots’ is unsettling.
As the Chairperson of the NCCE said, children who are unmonitored at betting centres are bad signals in the country.
The questions we must ask ourselves as adults, parents and policymakers are: Are we comfortable with our children involving themselves in games of chance?
Do we see games of chance as viable prospects for our children when they are older?
As policymakers, are games of chance viable and sustainable activities to grow the country economically and socially?
Games of chance by their nature are activities that are uncertain; one can either win or lose.
There are high stakes and the question that arises with that is: how does a child or young person pay when he or she loses, or how can he or she manage a win since they are still in their formative years?
Gambling, betting and gaming have their purposes. They are activities for adults who can better manage the consequences of wins or losses.
Putting children and the youth of Ghana in that activity is despicable.
The Daily Graphic calls on the Gaming Commission to sit up and regulate the gaming space.
It is disheartening, to say the least, to see the youth involved in such activities.
Have adult Ghanaians lost all their sense of responsibility towards children and the youth?
The current situation shows that we have lost our purpose as leaders and adults in Ghana.
Let us regain that responsibility to lead and guide our children on straight paths to safeguard the future of the country.