Zimbabwe – Fans comment on sport ban
BETTING houses have taken a huge knock from the recent global suspension of major sporting activities, particularly football.
A survey of betting houses in the city centre yesterday found most of them virtually empty, as there are no live conventional sports to bet on since all sporting activity was frozen last week due to the spreading coronavirus outbreak.
Sports betting had become extremely popular in Zimbabwe over the years, with many people making a living out of fulltime punting. Betting dens would fill to the bream, with European leagues, Uefa Champions League and Europa League being the major cash cows. However, since suspension of these leagues and every other sport around the globe, most betting houses echo with emptiness.
Operators of the betting dens say they have been sneezing since cancellations, suspensions and postponements of the world’s sporting events.
“The suspension of all major European leagues has had a huge impact on our business. As you can see things are moving at a slow pace. Normally, the place is busy, but you can see for yourself there are a few people here. Football brings in the people and if we do not have top games business is slow, but now it’s worse due to the total absence of all sports,”
– said a worker at a popular betting shop in the city.
He said due to the absence of live sport, punters had now resorted to other forms of sports betting such as virtual soccer, lucky six and greyhound races (dog races), lottery products and casino games, which they would not place their money on under normal circumstances.
These, however, are not as rewarding as football betting, whose yields tend to be higher.
“For some of us this is a job, so the ban on sporting activities, especially football, means we suffer financially. It is a situation beyond anyone’s control, but the reality is that most families are now surviving through sports betting, so this is really a big issue for us,”
– said one patron.
“Personally, l am not worried, I have moved to playing virtual sports until football is back. It’s hard though to be honest because you stand a higher chance of winning in football betting than these machines generated gambling,”
– said another punter, who only chose to identify himself as Dube.
Although the suspension of sporting activities around the world and 60-day ban on all domestic sporting activities is frustrating for any sport fanatic, there is a common agreement among sport lovers that this is the time for responsible authorities to work on the country’s facilities.
“I think the ban is a good move by the Government in the wake of this deadly virus. While sport is life to many, as a country we cannot afford the spread of the virus through sport,”
– said Allen Ndlovu, a football fan.
Another fan Lifa Ndebele said it’s something he’d never imagined would ever happen.