Zimbabwe And Its Gambling Ticking Time-Bomb

At a time of crisis human beings always find new ways of surviving and with the economy the way it is, Zimbabwe has seen a rise in gambling.

Gambling
Alan Cleaver / Foter / CC BY

Once upon a time, gambling was limited to the state lottery and horse betting. That was it. Now sports betting shops and casinos are cropping up all over the place, as punters make their way there to make that extra dollar or two to survive.

It peaks when English football league starts and some people place bets as far down as the fourth tier of the leagues in question. However at other times people will find another outlet for gambling, be it some weird sport noone cares about or casino. We have come across people who will spend the whole day placing bets on one thing or another.

The worry however is that there is no system in place to deal with potential or existing addictions.

You see, addiction to gambling is not merely about winning. There are numerous examples of people winning big and losing all their earnings the same night.

The California Council on Problem Gambling lists these reasons for addiction:

  • Hoping for a “big win” (at least 1 month’s salary)
  • Trying to win back lost money
  • Seeking the excitement of risk-taking
  • Impulsivity (acting without thinking in advance)
  • Trying to feel better about themselves
  • Escaping from loneliness, depression, anxiety and/or other unpleasant feelings
  • Hiding from life’s problems
  • Distraction from physical or emotional pain

The question again is, do we have the systems in place to deal with gambling addiction in this country? Do we even believe that there is a problem or is there a tendency to think this is the sort of thing that exists in movies and the sort? What must it take for society to be wary of this?

More sophisticated societies have had to wake up to the scourge of greed and addiction, with extreme situations where people have been robbed or killed as a result of a syndicate being at the centre of a deal. It is only a matter of time when someone’s high-risk low yield hook turns into a crime.

This is not to suggest that gambling in itself is awful and should be banned. No. What must be asked is, when personal responsibility falls out of the way, is society in a position to protect the individual and itself from an unsavoury situation? After all, a gambling disorder is a disease of the brain and therefore will not be present in all punters.

The worry as with many things in Zimbabwe, we will only sort of react when the problem is so out of hand it is nothing short of a crisis.

Unless of course someone gets some NGO money, prints banners and t-shirts, has workshops and writes a jingle about it…