We Make Billions from Betting, and It Manifests at Its Worst…!

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Nowadays, you can’t go through a day without seeing betting ads. Nearly everywhere, you meet alluring advertisements that give you all the reasons to believe you will be the next millionaire with just one or two bets. This development has been, to a great extent, supported by rapid developments in technology and online social platforms. Technology has allowed betting companies to operate through online platforms and even open online casinos.

With the betting industry producing 143 Billion Tanzanian Shillings in 2021/2022 in terms of government revenues and with a projected growth of 10%, the sector is proving to be a valuable asset to the economy. But this growth has taken its toll on our social fabric, with the youth population being the most affected.

Youth comprise nearly 61% of the total national population, so it’s no wonder they are also the largest consumers in the gambling industry. In most cases, youth are driven by get-rich-quick schemes promised by betting ads and testimonies of people who got rich overnight. Considering the difficulties of developing their businesses, Betting becomes a worthy “Bet”!

Another reason is that online Betting is so easy. When the betting industry started in Tanzania, casinos were the only place people could place their bets. This was, in many ways, a constraint to people because casinos are renowned for having a negative reputation, which, in essence, puts the importance of a casino gambler at stake.

But nowadays, one can place a bet or play in online casinos in the comfort and secrecy of one’s house. This provides youth with a chance to participate in gambling without being noticed by society, parents or guardians and avoid public scrutiny!

Furthermore, the relatively low cost associated with Betting makes it appealing to young people. In most betting platforms and online casinos, you can place a bet with as little as 500 Tanzanian shillings or less and still receive a possible return of up to 10,000 times.

Most youths see this as a more profitable way of investing their money than investing in economic ventures, which generally have a much lower return percentage, require a lot of dedication and take relatively more time to realize profits.

It’s undeniable that Tanzanian youth are negatively affected by Betting. Though there is very little literature and relevant statistics that support the assertion, it is clear from everyday experience that children are facing financial and health problems brought on by gambling. Daily, we come across youth who have ended in bankruptcy and are deep in debt due to Betting.

A Growth Projection in the Coming 7 Years

As reported by MarketWatch, The Tanzanian gaming market is anticipated to experience a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10.6% from 2023 to 2029. I know you won’t believe this, but this growth is attributed to government efforts to enhance internet access in rural Tanzania by developing fibre-optic infrastructure, as smartphones have been of help up to now. Additionally, the expanding youth population, expected to reach 27.7 million by 2030 from 22.9 million in 2020 (within the age group of 15-34 years), is poised to contribute to increased gaming market revenues in the years ahead.

Tanzania’s Gaming Market grew significantly before the COVID-19 pandemic because of increasing sports betting stations, mobile money subscriptions and internet users in the country. In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, retail sports betting negatively impacted the gaming market due to the closure of public places in the country. However, the retail market recovered with ease of restrictions.

To make this worthwhile, in 2021, Tanzania received support from the World Bank for the Digital Tanzania initiative project, valued at $150 million, to enhance digital connectivity by ensuring that all citizens, including those in rural areas, access affordable, high-quality internet services.

Moreover, Vodacom Tanzania is developing fibre-optic cable infrastructure with an investment of US$10 million in the rural part of the country to enhance internet connectivity, thereby contributing to the demand of the gaming market. In addition, the Tanzanian government has set a target to achieve 80% of the total population’s internet access by 2025 by constructing optical fibre up to 15,000 km under the national fibre grid initiative. The nation’s government is effectively contributing to the growth of the Tanzania Gaming Market.

The financial losses incurred by them, in consequence, worsen their mental health by increasing stress levels and a sense of worthiness, which in the long run may result in suicide and involvement in crimes. An article that was published on Science Direct, with the title:” Economic, health and Behavioural Consequences of Greater Gambling Availability by Samia Badji, Nicole Black, and David W. Johnston” sums up this well by saying:

We also find that the increase in gambling is positively associated with harmful outcomes. We find residential proximity to gambling venues predicts more significant financial hardship and mental health problems, especially for very close distances. Given the aetiology of gambling disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 2013), these mental health associations may be (at least in part) driven by the increased financial hardship. Importantly, it is recognized that the costs of mental ill-health extend beyond the suffering felt by the individual and their family, for instance, it has flow-on economic consequences for health care expenditure, reduced productivity and welfare support (Productivity Commission, 2020). ” End quote

My Perspective on Betting at Its Worst

One of the most significant concerns is the potential for addiction. Individuals may become addicted to the thrill of gambling, leading to financial difficulties, debt, and strained relationships. Betting companies often target a younger audience, and the ease of online Betting makes it accessible to youth. This raises concerns about the vulnerability of young individuals whose promises of quick wealth might entice them without understanding the associated risks.

Excessive gambling and financial losses can contribute to stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues. The pressure to win and the emotional roller coaster of wins and losses can take a toll on an individual’s well-being.

Gambling problems can extend beyond the individual, affecting families and communities. Financial hardships resulting from gambling can strain relationships, and communities might face increased crime rates associated with desperate attempts to recoup losses.

Betting advertisements often portray a glamorous lifestyle associated with easy money, creating unrealistic expectations. This perception can lead individuals to see Betting as a shortcut to financial success, overlooking the unpredictable and risky nature of gambling.

I must advise the youth to avoid adopting the mentality suggested by betting advertisements, which promote “winning big alone and losing small with many.” They must comprehend that Betting is a business to maximize profits, similar to any other enterprise. Gambling should never be seen as a means to make ends meet.

Apart from Betting, read the challenges of online transactions: The Dark Side of Online Transactions in Tanzania: Are You Safe?

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