Sports betting remains a very polar subject in Ghana. Some will argue that the rapid rise in online sports betting has been a great thing for Ghana, while another school of thought has been keen to question the morality of betting and stress the ill effects of all forms of gambling.
Whichever side of the divide you stand, one thing is for sure- the betting industry continues to grow from strength to strength.
There is no doubt that betting has contributed its fair share of positives to the economy, but it also presents plenty of danger to the Ghanaian youth.
Part of the positives include job creation and increased tax revenue for the government, but the flip side is that the large influx of betting companies into the country has given rise to unethical operators and many other vices.
These operators are only interested in how much money they can make from the market; and aren’t particularly bothered about the laws of the land or the well-being of their customers.
They are the sort of sites that condone under-age gambling, evade tax and indulge in other betting malpractices.
Sports betting can be great and enjoyable when you bet on great betting sites in Ghana, but it can be very frustrating and damaging if you run into an unscrupulous bookie.
It is time for the Ghanaian authorities to sit up, tighten their regulations and flush out shady betting companies from the system.
Apart from weeding out the bad eggs from the industry, Ghana must also do better to protect its youth from gambling addiction.
Some protagonists of sports betting have argued that betting has helped reduce crime rate by taking youths off the streets and giving them an alternative means of making money, but herein lies another problem.
Many young Ghanaians invest heavily in sports betting in the blind belief that they will hit the jackpot someday.
Of course, it is possible to hit the jackpot and earn a massive payday from sports betting, but the chances of that happening are very slim. Betting is very much dependent on luck, which no one has any control over.
And while chasing that jackpot, many bettors slip into gambling addiction and its inherent problems, like financial and mental troubles. Some go as far as borrowing money to place bets, and subsequently run into debts.
It is important for young Ghanaians to be educated about problem gambling and all the other issues associated with it
One way of doing this is by insisting that all betting companies in Ghana have responsible gambling sections on their sites, where they advise, enlighten, and help their users guard against gambling addiction. Betting companies can help their customers set spending limits, take breaks and seek professional help when needed.
Also, all betting advertisements and commercials, whether they are on television, radio, billboards, or any other platform, must include responsible gambling messages.
Online betting is very entertaining when done in the right way and with the right intentions, but it is also very easy for bettors and operators to be tempted into cutting corners in their bid to gain a share of the multi-million-dollar industry.