The visible economic downturn in Ghana has rendered many youth jobless with several companies equally retrenching – leaving scores to scavenge for other sources of income to cater for daily bread.
The dire financial strait has left the average Ghanaian youth with no option but to engage in activities that range from menial jobs to highly delinquent exercises to make ends meet.
Some are fortunate to turn the little from their long term savings into start-up businesses but the less lucky ones must find ways to “buy food.”
The new kid on the block that is keeping body and soul together is Sports Betting.
Men and women of different ages are mostly seen clustered at Game Centers watching live matches but their motives are far from supporting their favourite clubs or to enjoy the clashes.
The attachment to their presence at these live Game Centres is to “wish” for a club to either win, draw, lose or score more or less goals in order for them to smile at their phone from an alert or strut to the bank for a quick cash out.
These weekly activities has broken hundreds of hearts if it doesn’t go well but have equally buttered several breads if scores go right.
Bigwigs in various facet of the economy have been rumoured to be engaging in Sports Betting and like the say, “in every rumour there is an iota of truth in it”, meaning top guns might be engaged in business with the new “burger in town.”
The betting game is so rampant to the extent that football clubs and players in Ghana have been caught in the act leading to the suspension of former Ghana Premier League sides, AshantiGold, Inter Allies and some of its players and officials.
A quick chat with some of the punters reveals that, unemployment is the key reason for this mass switch of the youth from looking for jobs to the seemingly less stressful way of making money on the various betting apps.
In the comfort of their homes, at a nearby internet cafés or live match centres, they monitor games while they stake their bets prior to kickoff. A single miss is a recipe for cardiac disaster while smiles are assured when things go smoothly.
One would say that most of the people engaged in sports betting are not highly educated but there are surprise packages where young university graduates take part in the activities and the simple reason for their engagement is to complement their meagre monthly salaries that is if they are employed.
Other people go into sports betting because of expediency as they need quick cash to solve some immediate problems or undertake quick project despite the societal abhorrence for the act.
But the biggest challenge that is contributing to the high rate of sports betting and the mushrooming of betting companies in Ghana is purely unemployment reasons.
Ghanaians have a deep attachment to religion with the Christian majority, Muslims and the traditionalists who co-exist peacefully having a strong opposition to gambling.
However, with the high rate of unemployment coupled with growing retrenchment and the poor take home pay, can we say sports betting is the gateway to rescuing the average youth from the financial quagmire or a recipe for moral degeneration?