Prevalence, predictors and consequences of gambling on children in Ghana

Gambling is illegal for children in Ghana. However, young people, including children, are increasingly engaged in gambling across the country. Gambling is harmful and poses developmental implications for the youth, including children.

There are limited studies on child gambling in Ghana and other sub-Saharan African countries. This study examined the prevalence of gambling participation, predictors of gambling participation, and perceived harm of gambling on children.

Since its inception in 1960, the gambling industry in Ghana has served as a source of revenue for the government. The gambling industry supports the government through payments into the country’s Consolidated Fund, donations to the poor and vulnerable through its corporate social responsibility activities, payment of taxes and job creation. For instance, the National Lottery Authority contributed GH₵ 16 million Ghana Cedis and GH₵ 30 Ghana Cedis to the country’s Consolidated Fund in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

Currently, gambling operations in the country are managed and controlled by the Gaming Commission of Ghana (GCG) through the Gaming Act, 2006 (Act 721). The GCG is responsible for issuing licenses to all gaming operators and permits to companies and individuals that wish to run promotions with games of chance. Gaming activities regulated by the GCG include casinos, sports betting, slot machines, and promotions. In Ghana, gambling is legal for adults but illegal for persons under 18. According to Sect. 48 of Act 721, “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”. However, it is worth noting that while gambling is illegal for persons under 18, there is no agency or institution strictly monitoring or imposing this law.

There is evidence of increasing engagement of young people, including children, in sports betting and other gambling activities in the country. For example, a study by Odame et al. found that young people, including children, engaged in sports betting, card games, poker machines, and lotteries in the country. Similarly, Zagoon-Sayeed found that children aged 10 – 17 residing in Tamale, Kumasi, Takoradi and Accra were engaged in sports betting. In recent times, the Ghanaian media has also reported an increasing incidence and engagement of young people in gambling across the country. According to Ghanasoccernet, sports betting in Ghana has exponentially risen, especially among youth. Similarly, Nyavor reported the proliferation of online sports betting via mobile gadgets among Ghanaian youth. The author attributed the expansion of online sports betting to increased penetration of mobile phones, mobile money and the internet.

Empirical studies have established that gambling is harmful and poses developmental implications for the youth, including children. For example, engagement in gambling activities is associated with an increased risk of child abuse or neglect, depression and anxiety, substance abuse, suicidal behaviour, disruption to academics and social lives, stealing from family.

Despite these negative impacts of gambling on youth, including children, there are limited studies on the adverse effects of gambling in Ghana and other sub-Saharan African countries. For example, in Ghana, limited studies on adolescent gambling have focused on problem gambling and its predictors, participation and attitudes towards gambling, perceptions about automated slot/poker machines, and initiation, understanding and perceived benefits of gambling. However, these studies were not representative of the entire country.

Thus, there is insufficient understanding of the gambling situation among children aged 8 to 17 in Ghana and its adverse effects. Comprehensive knowledge of child gambling would help policymakers and researchers design appropriate interventions to tackle children’s engagement in gambling in the country. As such, this study examined the prevalence of gambling participation, predictors of gambling participation, and perceived harm of gambling on children.(…)

Full report can read HERE

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