The affliction of sports betting addiction among Ghanaian youths

It is absurd to think that life is a funfair. Besides, I have been around for a while to realise that it is a warfare. My mother once said that like battleships, we are captains of our own lives, and we are in constant battle with the adversities of life.

Therefore, we are solely responsible for our actions. If we give wrong and reckless commands, we end up sinking our ships and we surrender to the things we do not want to succumb to.

There are a few who may agree with me that the future of many Ghanaian youth hangs in the balance as social vices are rampant with each passing day in this country. These days, obscenity is a common place, drug abuse has become all the rage and sports betting is an opium to financial freedom. It will surprise you to know that while many are dreadful of addiction to drugs with the fear of getting mad, having health complication and even death, the number of lives betting is taking is alarming. Death may be the ultimate doom, but the mental torture and the social consequences that come with it are a fate worse than death.

When a friend tried to pitch the idea of sports betting to me some years back at the University, he was passionate about it. I was obviously an alien to it and out of curiosity, I brought it up in one of conversations to understand the motivation behind this activity. At the time, it was impossible to go a day without the mention of sports betting on campus. He made it look as simple as possible for me, place an amount of money on an outcome in a soccer game and you can double, triple, or even make a million times what you placed.

With these calculated promises that sports betting offers its victims, they are lured to a one-way street to addiction and mental bondage. Granted, some people claim to have won big and we see the winnings of others that feel like an escape from poverty. There are millions of penniless youths who have been drained of their hard-earned money which they placed on the fate of a football match.

Betting companies are preying on the discontentment of the youths, they exploit the financial desire of the average Ghanaian youth who dream of a better life. They sedate them with toxic earnings and seduce them with juicy bonuses and winnings to increase their financial libido. If one is to delve into the anatomy of sports betting and the genuine intent of these betting companies that are growing in number every day, you would see that they are part of a grand scheme to rob society what it toils to gain. Sadly, many of us have been fooled when they play to the gallery with their deceptive advertisement of making life better and enriching society overnight.

There are many things to apportion blame for what has turned out to be a menace of our age. You can talk of the sorry state of our economy, unemployment, corruption, and the general feeling of hopelessness among the youth, but there is absolutely no way sports betting is a better alternative to solve the financial problems we face.

It is worthy to note that sports betting is like an angel sent from hell. It takes more than it gives. The joy in winning is temporary but the affliction that comes with losing is irreparable. If you are fortunate to be on the winning side, it may sound distasteful but if you have been in the shoes of the many who have taken their lives and those languishing in prison under the influence of sports betting, you would reckon it is worth a of state of affairs. The addiction that is associated with sports betting is a potent killer just as we dread HIV/AIDS and other deadly diseases. Many are thrown into the abyss of madness and mental instability; some have developed kleptomaniac fingers and others have sold off the entire property just to satisfy their betting cravings.

It may mean business to owners and investors of these companies but the harm they cause is more than the good they sell. It has become so difficult to tackle this head on because you do not even know who to trust and lean on for salvation. Mitigating this menace has become more and more complex. Regulation has been sacrificed on the altar of money making. Authorities have rather turned into parasitic leach, syphoning money from where they did not sow and taking advantage of the vulnerability of young Ghanaians.

Like any addiction, many are left mute and wander in solitude of their own demons. It is a difficult subject to talk about when you are caught in the web of gambling. The feeling of shame and the guilt of becoming a social misfit are great barriers. Young people must be taught, that a bird in hand is worth two in the bush. There is so much we can do with the little we have and to risk it all for nothing is a path towards perpetual poverty. Many have preached responsible betting, but a fat lot of good that has done. We need an awakening, a financial renaissance so to speak, if truly, we want to make it out of the miseries of our time.


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