Home » Industry » With Few Jobs, Gambling Is As Good a Bet As Any [blog]

Joe may still be an engineering student at the University of Zimbabwe, but he’s already found his ‘money-maker’: placing bets in a Joina City shop.

I didn’t expect the shop to be so full this early on a Saturday morning, but around thirty people – mostly young men in their twenties – stare at one of the many TV screens. They only peel their eyes away to peer at their phones or to place their bets.

Joe* leads me to a corner where he unslings his backpack and takes out his laptop and a notebook.

“It’s a big game today,” he says as we take our seats. “And a thrilling one, but for betting purposes it doesn’t mean much. There isn’t much to be made.”

It is indeed as big as it gets: a struggling but star-studded and big-spending Manchester United will face an imperious Chelsea which has not lost a league game yet this season.

“The best bets are for the small teams no one has ever heard of, or big teams in lesser leagues,” says Joe. “I have won more than a thousand on Colombian, Greek, Mexican and other such leagues.”

A gambler’s arsenal

“You need to have good internet access. There is a method to the whole process – it’s not just guessing. That’s why I use a portion of my winnings to get internet services. There is a whole load of information and statistical data behind every football match, for example: the referee, absences due to injury or suspension, performance (especially in the previous five games), team morale, boardroom squabbles and so forth.”

It’s not just guessing.

He then asks if I have a flash disc drive. I produce one and he plugs it into his laptop, and hands it back with a smile.

“Read this man, and you can make it big. Most people lose because they use emotions and guesswork,” he says.

He is scribbling his choices in his notebook the whole time, occasionally glancing at his laptop and then scribbling some more. I peek and see that there are more than eight teams. Joe tells me he’ll put up about $100.

Before we leave the shop, he rips the page from his notebook and walks over to the counter. He hands it to the attendant and gives her some money.

A new generation of gamblers

When I get home I look at the four documents Joe gave me. Three are typical “I will make you succeed” books. The fourth is a 2012 Master’s Degree paper by one Fabian Moya, submitted to the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science at Simon Fraser University. The 50-page thesis is called Statistical Methodology for Profitable Sports Gambling.

The new generation of sport gamblers are young and educated. To maximise their chances, they use technology and spend countless hours on the internet. Some, like Joe, go a step further by finding and reading books that deal with sports gambling.

No alternatives

In a country where unemployed is said to be above 80%, gambling is an appealing alternative, especially to young people who make up the majority of the unemployed. But the business, though dominated by young males, transcends gender and age. Everyone can feel the economy’s pinch.

Besides football matches, they also place bets on equestrian sports, cricket and dog races.

It’s better than staying at home doing nothing…

The risk is high, but the possibility of making money is greater than if one stays at home doing nothing. There are many tales about people who have won – or lost – thousands.

Along with fast food outlets and boutiques filled with Chinese imitations, betting shops are one of the few businesses that seem to be thriving in today’s Zimbabwe.

A game of chance

Manchester United scores a very late leveller against Chelsea and the match ends as a draw. As the final whistle blows, I think about Joe and the others who had monetary interests on the outcome. Some won, others lost. Some smiled, others did not.

I decide to read Fabian Moya’s thesis more closely. As the Shona say, “Hauzivi chakakodza nguruve”.

Try everything, you never know what makes the hog fat…

*Name changed

Waza is proud to feature as part of its content local bloggers who have a knack for expressing their unique perspectives, independent thoughts and engaging stories. The opinions written here are those of the author.For more on sports betting, you can check out our Speak up edition on Sports betting in Kampala, Uganda.

Source : Waza