Sports Betting Booming in DR Congo But comes with Addiction Cost

Sports betting is legal in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Sports betting is a monopoly of the state-run SONAL, the Congolese national lottery 60% owned by SONAL.

And the remaining 40% in private hands, much like the National Lottery in the UK, proceeds from running it after winnings been paid out, to fund socio-economic activities and causes that serve the public interest. However, the Democratic Republic of Congo has never been one of Africa’s gambling hot spots, but the popularity of sports, particularly football which is the home to enthusiastic football fans. Both local and international matches at the same time high unemployment have also made gambling a popular way to make quick money among youth in the country. Which 68% of the people age less than 25 years, an estimated 56 percent of the Democratic Republic of Congo urban population is underemployed.

In contrast, 43 percent of the active working-age population is unemployed, according to a 2015 (IMF) International Monetary Fund report. These say the Congo government is not creating sufficient jobs for its young and rapidly growing workforce which formal employment opportunities are few, many turn to odd jobs to survive. Although the Congolese economy has experienced fast growth and poverty has declined since the 2015 report of IMF according to 2019 World Bank reports. Perhaps, sports betting is common among young Congolese population in which significant numbers don’t mind spending hours placing wagers at any cost. The unprecedented popularity of sports betting is growing exponentially in the country. At dawn, you often find football fans flock to betting shops across Kisangani, the Capital of DRC’s, Tshopo province hoping to win big on gambling. Although according to a local news report that football betting has automatically become an everyday occupation for many people.

In contrast, people wake up early in the morning and leave for betting, “Pari-foot,” local slang for football betting in DRC’s it is a widespread practice, and it’s the only means of survival for most of the young adult. Though the growth of sports betting has come with criticism, underage gambling is rampant in the country due to the lax laws in place that regulate the gambling industry. Some sections of the people have called it a curse due to the several sports bettors that are increasing in the country. The civil organization and authorities are discussing ways to regulate the lucrative industry better and help bettors gamble responsibly. However, poorly enforced laws, unemployment, and football widespread are the significant causes of underage gambling in the central African country.

In contrast, to gamble on games of chance in DRC, one must be 18 or older, but that has not been the case in Congo, underage sports betting bettors is common in the country. According to Matheus Kanga, a civil society of Tshopo, a provincial public organization, says Minors are falling prey to gambling addiction. Many are not spending enough time to concentrate on their education. However, with over 44 licensed betting shops across the country, punters often bet a minimum of 500 Congolese francs on their favorite teams. Bookies get up to 115 bettors a day. According to Pierre Kitoko Lombo, a city tax collector in the country, which says the sports betting as make their businesses one of the most profitable in the country. Also, the lucrative sports betting industry (Pari-foot) contributes substantial revenue to the local economy, in which shop owners pay a monthly tax of 118,000 francs ($75).

Perhaps as stated earlier, it is intriguing to know despite the growth of Pari-foot, which often referred to as sports betting in the country, which as been a source of living for most people in the country, it still comes with its challenges for authorities. However, the government has taken a step to properly regulate the country’s gambling laws. Making sure it is enforcing it on operators to promote responsible gambling and for shop owners to stop placing wagers to those below the stipulated age to avoid underage gambling in the country.



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