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Unemployed youth in La resort to gambling

BY: Andrews Frimpong
 Some youth at a betting centre
Some youth at a betting centre

Gambling has become a source of stable income for many young people within the La town.

This is as a result of the high unemployment rate within the area. Several betting companies such as the Super bet, Soccer bet, My bet, Premier, Winning bet among others have opened gambling centres on virtually every busy street.

During live matches played in Europe, dozens of young people gather in front of the screens at the betting centres to go through their tickets to check whether they are winning their bets or not.

Some people even spend their whole day at these betting centres, engage in unnecessary argument and other activities which are literally unprofitable. 

Anthony Adokwei, a 26-year-old unemployed graduate from the Accra Technical University (ATU) who has been without work for three years, praised the betting companies for bringing him hope.

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''If not for Super bet, I don't know how I would have survived all these years without a job and salary.

When I have as little as GH¢20 cedis, I can place a bet on several matches and sometimes win about GH¢500 cedis, and that is what I use in catering for myself,'' Anthony asserted.

Kwame Boahen, 25, who says he is a good customer to these betting companies, said: “Master, bet is better than normal lottery, there is no problem with this.

You select your own teams and predict how a match will go. It’s fun. It fetches me money sometimes.” He explained that the betting had helped him so stopping would not be easy.

“It has helped me a lot, I even bought my phone with betting money. I am not stopping anytime soon.

I come here every day to bet. When there are no matches, I come and sit here to watch football. Super bet is my home,” he said cheerfully.

According to the 2015 Ghana Labour Force report, 50 per cent of persons 15 years and older were unemployed.

Also, unemployment among young people between the ages of 15 and 34 was higher than the national average. In urban areas, 72.7 per cent of the employed population are youth compared to 63.3 per cent of their rural counterparts.

The total unemployment rate for Ghana is 11.9 per cent.

Like Anthony Adokwei and Kwame Boahen, several young people within La rely solely on winnings from the bets for survival. They see it as a big source of income which comes with little or no stress.

Because this has become an easy way of gaining money, many young people who are otherwise skilled and have educational certificates have stopped the search for gainful employment.

They are sadly becoming a liability to the country instead of real human resource assets. It is sad and very unfortunate for a developing nation like Ghana that needs more skilful human resource to help the country. The immediate monetary gain is the attraction.

Madam Akweley Yemofio, a 55-year-old mother of five, observed ''Two of my children who completed secondary school have refused to do apprenticeship in auto mechanics and carpentry work respectively because of the money they make from betting.

Sometimes I tell them that if everyone decides to stop their work and go into gambling, who will then fix your car or even make furniture for you but my sons have never paid heed to my advice.”

The nation needs to have a national conversation about this trend in order to find a solution to the challenge. A future crop of leaders whose occupation is gambling will definitely not bode well for the country.

The writer is a student of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ)