University Students Live off Betting.

Sineke Sibanda

Metso is a student at the National University of Science and Technology. He has three other siblings, one is starting her degree programme, the other just started her ‘A’ level at Empandeni boarding school and the last one is writing her form four examinations this year.

With much of his parents’ attention going to his three female siblings, he has to take care of himself. It has not been easy, and he has since resorted to, soccer betting, a form of gambling to subsidise his welfare.

Metso is among a host of other college students who have enrolled into this gambling circus to try and make ends meet as they strive towards completing their studies.

At a time when Zimbabwe is marred with high rates of unemployment, industries characterised with no activity, with only big rusty keys hanging on the falling gates; betting halls have become the new industries with regular patrons thronging these spaces from as early as 7am in the morning till 1030pm in the evenings daily.

Patson Nkomo, a security official at one of the betting halls in the city observes that some have become regulars at the shop, and only absent when they fall sick.

“Others are now informal employees here (laughs), they are here 24/7. With the issue of unemployment so high in Zimbabwe, this is where others make their living, including university students from,” said Nkomo.

According to Admire Mapani, a student at the Bulawayo Polytechnic, betting has become a way of life for most college students.

“There is so much peer pressure we go through at school,” said Mapani. “You meet people from different families and you are also faced with the challenge to survive at-least, so the little your parents send you, you spin some of it through betting with the hope of multiplying it.”

However, issues to do with addiction of this sort of gambling tends to haunt.

According to Metso, he finds it hard to pass by the shop without being tempted to bet.

“I think I’m becoming an addict. I find it hard to pass by the soccer shop without being tempted to bet. Sometimes I even use my lunch money. I know its bad but I can’t control it sometimes”

This sort of gambling has become a normal routine and to others a little bit addictive. For the lucky ones, they have managed to get the best out of the experiences and to the unlucky, lots of money has been lost to the betting shops.

Being a student too, I know how hard college life can be especially if you are far from home. It can be pretty tricky and because there are no grants or student stipends, anything that brings money could be ideal.

Over the years, we have heard of alarming rates of prostitution from college girls, selling of drugs by guys and now betting is the new trade. The most important pre –occupation is making money to be

Good as it may sound, obviously for the owners of the shops, my concern is largely on the development part of our countries.

Possibly this may not be a phenomenon only peculiar to Zimbabwe, I’m sure some countries may be experiencing this too. I stand to be corrected, does this kind of business in anyway promote the development of individuals? Or maybe I should be asking the economic value of betting.

With economic downturn and a lack disposable income, betting has become one of the last resorts among youths in Zimbabwe.

This trade has been around for a while, generally known as lotto/ lottery. A new form seems to have emerged, soccer bet.

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