How youths can get out as industry grows

Dar es Salaam. Betting is one of the fastest-growing industries in Tanzania, but it has come with a price for the youth, who are increasingly becoming addicted. Football and basketball are some of the games that fans mostly bet on through special machines installed in the streets and through digital applications.

This activity has been engaging youths who spend most of their working time betting. The easy accessibility of betting so?ware applications and the presence of betting machines on almost every street across the country have made matters worse.

The Chairperson of the Tanzania Sports Betting Association, Ms Sabrina Msuya, reveals that tax revenue from betting companies has bolstered revenue collection, which has been growing in recent years. Betting companiesʼ contributions increased from Sh87 billion in 2019/20 to Sh145.9 billion in 2021/22, she said.

This sector has been growing very fast each year,” – she said. But all this has come with dire consequences for the youth.

A resident of Manzese in Dar es Salaam, Mr Kelvin Justin (23), said he started betting when he was still a secondary school student five years ago and became addicted just after six months.

“I used to believe I could control my mind and avoid addiction to betting like other youths, but I failed. I now find it very hard to quit. I feel like something is missing, and it prompts me to play repeatedly,”

– he said, adding that a day cannot pass without placing a bet.

Mohammed Ayoub, 29, a resident of Tabata in Dar es Salaam, said heʼs been betting ever since he was fired from work.

“Sometimes, I try to stop and tell myself that I will never bet again, but a?er some time, I find myself betting more than I was before. I wish I would stop, but I donʼt know how to quit,” – he said.

However, experts have an alternative way of avoiding betting. Richard Jackson, a psychologist at Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH), says abstaining from betting is the best way to stay out of addiction.

“If you never gamble, just donʼt try. Most of the young people start to bet, believing they will never be addicted. After some time, they find themselves addicted and find it hard to get out.”

– he said, explaining that playing responsibly is almost impossible.

Mr Hussein Mmao, a financial advisor, said youths miss the most important part of the story, which is that the more you do something, the more you are likely to be affected by it.

“I think thereʼs a need to tell our youths the reality of the matter because we are not building a nation of gamblers. We are building a country of hard workers and economic revolutionaries, not otherwise. As our ancestors started to build this nation, youths should focus on working hard and not gambling.” – she said.

In connection with what youths should do to get rid of betting addiction, Mr Jackson said youths should set goals in response to betting addiction.

“Setting short-term and long-term goals may help you stay focused on cutting down or giving up gambling,” – he said.

He further explained that a youth who is addicted to gambling should avoid high-risk situations.

“Use of credit cards, taking out loans, carrying large amounts of money with you, using gaming venues for socialising, or gambling as a reaction to emotions is risky,”

– he said, adding that such behaviours will weaken your resolve to control or stop gambling.

Ms Ameelina Robert, a psychologist, said self-exclusion is the best way for any addicted youth to recover. Self-exclusion is a free where one bans themselves from gambling venues or online gambling.

“You can ban yourself from venues like casinos, clubs, pubs, and many others. You should exclude yourself from placing a bet on gambling websites.” – she said.

She also advised youths to talk about their gambling addiction with somebody they trust and someone who wonʼt judge so that they can ease the pain of bottling it up.

“It can also reduce the stress that can cause you to continue to gamble,” she said.

She advised addicted youths to find alternatives to gambling. Gambling can lead to social isolation and leisure substitution, she said.

“When people try to stop gambling, they lack the motivation to find other activities that are exciting and fun, which leads them back into gambling,”

– she said, adding that family and friends should always support their members to stop betting completely.

What do betting companies do?

In an attempt to keep people away from betting addiction, Ms Msuya said the betting association has been educating people on how to bet responsibly.

“These games are for leisure; people should never perceive them as a job. We urge the exclusion of children from these betting sites and even shops, and we tell people that betting is not for people under the age of eighteen.” – she said.

Ms Msuya says that, in an effort to make sure people are playing responsibly, betting ads are not aired in the media from 12am to 2am.

“In electronic media, all the ads should be aired on sports and entertainment programmes and not otherwise. The same applies to print media outlets in that betting ads should only be printed on sports pullouts or in sports newspapers,” – she says.

However, she says, every betting company has a limit on the number of bets that someone can place per day.


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