We must fight gambling addiction

A website that gives information on gambling in America has some stark statistics. QuitGamble.com’s Gambling Addiction Statistics and Facts 2024 indicates that 3 per cent American gamblers are struggling with a huge gambling debt, with 20 per cent of them !ling for bankruptcy after losing all their money.

Interestingly, according to this survey, there are more women gambling addicts than men who struggle with gambling debts, at 78 per cent against 71 per cent for male addicts.

While these statistics sound distant and out of our immediate concern, Kenya is presently grappling with the unprecedented growth of gambling products whose popularity is growing courtesy of weak regulatory policies for the gambling industry, the Internet and mobile devices.

As Kenyan youth get enticed to chance their luck in betting sites and shops across the country, unknown to them is the fact that there are more losers in gambling than winners.

GeoPoll Survey 2022 puts Kenya in the lead ahead of South Africa, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania and Nigeria, in that order, with 82.81 per cent of the respondents in the survey admitting to placing bets.

Evidently, betting sites continue to grow their pro!t margins while in their trail leaving scores of broken relationships, school dropout cases and survivors of suicide who had bet what they could not afford to lose.

As images of handful of elated winners greet us on the screens in our sitting rooms, behind the curtains are hundreds of families dealing with mental health problems of their kith and kin, coming to terms with the reality of collapsed marital unions; and education dreams abruptly cut by bets-gone-sour.

Pathological gamblers

What many gamblers fail to appreciate is that betting companies are business entities after pro!t and not charitable organisations. Every betting platform has inbuilt advantages that ensure that they will always be the real winners. You just can’t win against the house!

QuitGamble.com 2024 notes that in America, 50 per cent of problem gamblers have committed crimes, 63 per cent have written bad cheques, and 30 per cent have stolen from their workplaces. These challenges are duplicated locally in petty crimes as pathological gamblers raise money for gambling from all and sundry after they have even exhausted their chances for loans from mobile loan applications.

One notable finding in this survey is the fact that sports betting sites, casinos ad and slots games realise 86 per cent of their revenue from 5 per cent of the losers. This fact should get every gambler thinking and prompt the society to adopt measures to save the youth from drowning in the betting euphoria.

The reality of this matter is that gambling industry cannot be wished away. As gambling companies continue to rake in profits despite attempts at regulation, the society should also be putting up mechanisms to reduce statistics of the effects on society.

Besides government regulation of the betting industry, the society should invest in mentorship to stem ignorance and cultivate a sense of responsibility among the youth. First, parents should begin to talk to their children, as soon as they clock teenage, about gambling and its risks.

Effects of gambling

The youth should be made aware that gambling is addictive and problems attributable to any drug addiction, such as truancy, lack of hygiene, crime and relationship problems are also attributable to betting and other forms of gambling.

Secondly, the youth need to be made aware of the fallacy that gambling is a form of investment. The street talk that a gambler, particularly betters in sports, are investors (wawekezaji) is not only misleading, but also dishonest.

They need to be taught honourable ways of making money other than hanging around betting shops idly awaiting the outcomes of their bets. Indeed, they need to be made aware that investment calls for innovation, patience and persistence which are critical virtues not only in investment but also in their general interaction with others.

Thirdly, the youth should be talked into enjoying sports without necessarily placing bets. They need to be taught that placing bets robs them of the thrill of watching the game, and that betting places them on the receiving end where the outcome of a game that is beyond their control carries dire consequences on their finances and subsequent relationship with the people or organizations that had loaned them the money.

This in itself is enough stressor and a risk to their mental health.

Lastly, the government, in addition to introducing more stringent legislation, should provide technical resources in terms of personnel to offer psychological assistance to gambling addicts and stem gambling addiction in the society.

The society needs to be sensitised on the effects of gambling, and resources availed to gambling addicts that may wish to overcome the challenge and lead normal lives.

Source: nation.africa

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