Scenarios of people gambling themselves into sheer poverty are not far-off tales or things we only watch in James Bond movies, it’s real and whoever invented sports betting bred a new era of gambling.
Sports betting is a form of gambling where people predict the result of a match with hopes of winning money and is one of the most time and money consuming habits.
Jerome Bizimungu is 26 years old and a mobile money agent. He tells me that he started betting a few years ago and with time, his ‘hobby’ started consuming half of the money that he earned. He admits that his ‘profits’ are minimal compared to the sum he injects in the game but he insists that he cannot quit.
He admits that he is aware that he is spending his earnings on an addictive game of chance but insists his habit helps him to relax.
“I enjoy betting because it gives me hope, it helps me not to worry about tomorrow.” Bizimungu says.
Bizimungu says that he sometimes resorts to selling some of his household items just to fund his betting addiction.
“Sometimes I even bet the little cash I am left with and end up losing, devastating as it is, I always pick up the courage to go back because I just can’t resist that urge of knowing that there is a chance that I could win big,” he adds.
Claire Ijabiro works at Lucky Sports Bet in Remera, a Kigali suburb. She says that sports betting has become big business, mostly among the youth. She is, however, quick to point out that those below eighteen years of age are not allowed to participate.
She explains that the starting amount for betting is Rwf300 and can sometimes go up to millions. The amount won depends on the standards a particular team is given, she tells me.
Gamblers mostly bet on international teams.
“Sports betting is like any other business and a lucrative one at that, lucky bettors can win a cool one million Rwandan francs and it is handed to them,” Ijabiro says.
Apart from putting one’s money on a team that is seen as favorite to win a match, Ijabiro says that winning in the betting game is all about luck.
On a day, a betting company can make a million francs and above, especially if the teams playing are the big guns.
“The amount of money we earn a day is determined by the teams out on the fixtures. When it’s the English Premier League, for instance, very many people bet and we also get to earn a lot. We can earn Rwf800,000 and more,” she reveals.
A lucrative business indeed but not all people view it from a similar prism.
Gilbert Sibomana works for a betting company that he asked us not to mention. He says that betting is a gambling business that capitalizes on curiosity and addiction.
“People spend a lot of money on games they are not even sure of winning, you find that one bets on a number of games but gets nothing out of it or wins in only a few of them meaning the rest of their money went to waste, this isn’t wise,” Sibomana says.
Is the game worth the risk?
For Emmanuel Kayiranga, a university student, sports betting is not harmful until one gets addicted to it.
“I do bet sometimes but it’s something I do only for the fun of it. I am not against the game, especially if the person doesn’t do it excessively,” Kayiranga says.
He says he would never advise anyone to spend their hard-earned money on betting.
Clementine Iradukunda is a nanny. She wonders why a rational human being would risk their money on something they are not sure of gaining from and have no influence over.
“First of all, I don’t do sports betting, especially because I find that game wrong. I just can’t waste my money like that. Maybe betting should be left to people in more developed countries since they seem to have more money to spend,” she says.
However, Robert Mugabe wonders why it took that long for such an impressive concept to come to light.
Being a businessman, he says that he is accustomed to risk taking and he attributes his wins on betting to the experience of running his business.
“The first time I started betting I put Rwf100, 000 on a game and I walked away with Rwf350, 000. I was surprised and I couldn’t believe that one would make so much money with such little effort,” he recollects.
“From that day, I have always been a huge fan of this game, and I have lost many games but I do find the whole thing hard to resist. For one to gain they have to lose at some point. Life itself is a gamble, I don’t see why some people shun something that has potential of helping them make money,” he says.
Do you think that betting is addictive?
Sports betting is something new in Rwanda but it’s lucrative. People have made a lot of money from it while others have lost almost everything. I know someone from university who sold everything, including his bed, just to continue gambling. It is a hard habit to break and it is important that you think of it as something that is not good for you.
It’s a business so it can’t be banned. Personally, I have betted but just for fun. I can assure you that betting is interesting but, like any habit, without control, it can destroy your life.
People need to understand what betting is all about and its long term effects even way before they involve themselves. What is business to some people can be some sort of disease to others.
I have betted before and actually won some money but I am smart enough to know when to stop. Can it be addictive? Absolutely yes. There is always something interesting about playing a game of chance.
Compiled by Petronillar TumuhairweFollow https://twitter.com/DonahMbabazi