Home » Human Rights » Betting Takes Bulawayo By Storm

WITH more than three quarters of Zimbabwe’s population unemployed, sports betting has become a full time engagement for many youths and adults in Bulawayo.

For a long time, betting in the country was associated with pensioners. In the past, some people would only engage in betting just as a hobby. Not anymore.

NewZimbabwe.com last week visited several betting outlets which have mushroomed in Bulawayo.

One of the most popular betting shops in the city is Africa Bet. When our news crew arrived at the shop, scores of young, middle-aged and old men, both employed and unemployed, were all scribbling on small pieces of paper, busy betting.

One veteran punter at the shop, Charles Mwanza, freely described the situation.

“Unlike in the past where horse racing was popular, football betting is now the most popular discipline. One can place a bet on a score line of a match. Some people, especially whites, also wager on disciplines such as tennis, Formula One and cricket but older people like myself, prefer horse racing,” said Mwanza.

Mwanza, a former wages clerk, said he has been surviving through punting since 1990 when he lost his job.

“I have been in the betting business for a very long time. I have been raising my family through income from betting. My highest windfall was last year when I placed $100 on a ticket containing 16 horse races and won $5000. It was a great moment for me,” he said.

A student at the University of Science and Technology (NUST), who refused to be named, said he also survives through betting.

“I was introduced to betting by a friend in 2013. I spend most of my time, when I am not on campus, betting. I specialize in predicting outcomes of various international football matches. On average per day, I earn $10 after using $2,” said the student.

Although some people have struck gold through betting, cases of punters losing large sums of money abound.

NewZimbabwe.com was told of a sad story where a punter put in $5000 betting for a Manchester United win against Liverpool last year.

Liverpool went on to win the match 3-0.

Said another punter:

“Betting is gambling. You can win something but it’s not something one can always do over and over again. The reason being that if you are to place a dollar it means that one has to select some 20 matches for you to stand a chance of winning a reasonable figure and you have to get all the predictions right which is very difficult.”

An Africa Bet official who refused to be named confirmed that since the introduction of the US dollar in 2009, betting business has been brisk for the company.

“These days our betting hall is filled with people of different age groups and races. We even have female punters. The busiest days are Fridays and Saturdays,” said the official.

He said most punters have got a tendency of keeping their business as a secret from their spouses and families and only open up after making a fortune.

Source : New Zimbabwe