Tafadzwa Chibukwa, Features Reporter
GAMBLING is an age-old practice that has seen the rise and fall of many.
It’s an adrenaline pumping, mind blowing, pocket and life threatening practice.
Gambling can be addictive.
Many have watched James Bond movies where gambling is a recurrent motif and associated with it are smoking, drinking, women, guns and the adventurous life.
Gambling is risking a sum of money or a valued item against someone else’s on the basis of the outcome of an unpredictable event such as a race or a match. Sometimes one loses, at other times, they win.
It has many forms; anything can come up as a bet depending on the environment that one is in. Sports betting is probably the oldest form of gambling of them all. From cavemen betting on fights and horse races to ultra-modern stadiums full of elite athletes.
These days, it’s possible to bet on just about anything sports-related, with
over the years growing into a lucrative industry, catering for all genders.
So common is the practice that sports betting facilities around the city are always crowded with people trying out their luck.
Gambling has become more than just a pastime as scores of chancers have turned to it in an effort of making the extra buck to take care of their families.
Roulette, a popular casino game, is named after the French word meaning little wheel. In the game, players may choose to place bets on either a single number or a range of numbers, the colours red or black, or whether the number is odd or even.
To determine the winning number and colour, a croupier spins a wheel in one direction, and then spins a ball in the opposite direction around a tilted circular track running around the circumference of the wheel.
The ball eventually loses momentum and falls onto the wheel and into one of 38 coloured and numbered pockets on the wheel.
Aside from roulette, chancers also bet on soccer games, participate in the lottery or bet on a game of cards played on the streets.
A tour around the city shows just how popular gambling has become. Soccer betting halls are always crowded during big soccer matches.
In separate interviews at various sports betting centres in the city centre, fanatics said gambling is a well-paying “hobby” which can also leave one broke.
Mr Albert Mpofu said he spends most of his time at MWOS betting centre.
“I started gambling just after the Covid-19 lockdown in 2021 and haven’t stopped since then. When I started, I told myself I would be doing it to try my luck and pass time but eventually I got hooked. Now I’m finding it hard to quit. At times, I’m lucky to leave with a bit of money, and sometimes it’s dry to the extent that the little money that I would’ve come with is all exhausted,” he said.
Mr Mpofu said gambling is addictive and if one is not careful, they can lose everything they have.
“Gambling is one tricky game that is addictive and corruptive; not only does it take control of a person but it also takes over their lifestyle and personality as well as their mentality. Whenever one gets a bit of money, all they think of is going to gamble it away. Generally, what I can say is it alters the functionality and gives one false hope that if they continue trying their luck they might get something back, hence leading them to addiction,” he said.
Mr Gerald Moyo from Lobengula suburb concurred with Mr Mpofu.
He said gambling has destroyed many people.
“Gambling is one thing that has taken over most people in our society regardless of their age. Even if we try to run away from it, it haunts us. When talking about gambling, we must not confine it to one aspect of gambling in a casino or a sports betting centre, but it is diverse and one can bet on anything for anything. I have encountered some of the weirdest bets where people will bet on anything random and the stacks would be high for that matter but still one would agree to it.
“When I was growing up, while herding cattle, we would let our bulls fight or even play a game of football, the loser would eventually take all the cows home. That is a rare example of the types of gambling and bets that we used to practise when we were young,” said Mr Moyo.
While some gamble at a smaller scale, other individuals have dedicated themselves to the practice by going to the lengths of staking important possessions and property.
There are instances where people have been said to have lost their houses, cars, private property and some even lost their wives after having used them as leverage for gambling.
In soccer betting, every minute and every touch is important.
One can place a bet on a 10-minute or first-half score line of a match.
In fact, there are many options one can make in placing a bet.
One can predict an outright win for a particular team or teams and place that on one ticket. Home teams often pay less.
A person can predict a home win or draw as a double chance, which of course offers lower odds.
Thirdly, one can also simply predict that a certain team will score or that a minimum number of goals will be scored in a match.
For example, one can bet that a match involving Arsenal and Manchester United will produce a minimum of three goals.
The brave ones can actually predict the actual score line and that option pays more.
The courageous ones bet more money and stand better chances of winning than those who bet small and take less risks.
Last year, World-famous singer Drake bet US$1 million that Argentina would win the World Cup final against France but despite the game’s final result, he still lost the cash.
South African Hip Hop singer, AKA bagged a whopping R26 000 after betting on Manchester United to beat Arsenal in the English Premier League last year.
In a viral video making rounds on social media, a Harare man went naked after losing US$900 to gambling.
Mr Mduduzi Moyo from Njube said the excitement and craze that comes with gambling is unmatched.
“One can never fully describe the feeling that comes with gambling. That’s why you find that people will go to ridiculous lengths and place ridiculous bets and risks just to feed their adrenaline rush. Most times you find that when people come into the sports betting centre, they would be in possession of little money they have reserved for betting alone. As time goes by, you find them digging back into their pockets to get more money that they had declared they wouldn’t use.
Sometimes, people are fooled by the winning streak to stake out all of their money, only to have their eyes opened after their pockets have run dry,” said Mr Moyo.
Contrary to popular belief, gambling is not necessarily done exclusively by dubious characters that many associate with crime.
It is the ordinary man and woman on the street trying to make ends meet.
Women too flock to casinos where they play fruit machines while others are there as “technical advisors”.
The “technical advisors” are there to supposedly “guide” the chancers to bet on particular numbers and aid them to win big.
When the punters do win as per their advice, the “technical advisors” take all the credit and when the punters discard the advice — they blame the chancer for the loss.
They live off wins from those they would have advised.
Others ask for chips worth as little as $5 only to win more than the sponsor and disappear into thin air.
Sex workers also lurk in close proximity waiting to lure those that would have won big and hoping to cash in on them.
Gambling in Zimbabwe is legal and is regulated by the Ministry of Home Affairs under The Lotteries and Gaming Board which operates in terms of the Lotteries and Gaming Act Chapter 10: 26.
Casinos, lottery or lotto, horse and soccer betting are a “cleaner” type of gambling compared to playing cards in streets or houses. — @Sagepapie14