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Sports Features Fri, 31 May 2019

Sports betting in Ghana; a looming danger

Sport betting is a fast emerging business in Ghana and the world at large. It is a growing market which derives its power from games and competition. The existence of games and competitions act as primary source of data for the market to thrive.

No one can doubt the role sports betting play in the socio-economic growth of any nation. This business has provided jobs and revenue for countries over the years.

Betting was originally informal and illegal but modernity and technology have redefined it to look more of a genuine business and now very attractive to the corporate world. Some may have strong religious resentment against it, but the phenomenon is gaining more acceptance every passing moment.

Nonetheless, one cannot also overrule the effect of betting in our games. There have been many scandals which occurred through the activities of betting and betting syndicates. Notable among them is the 2007 NBA Betting Scandal.

In 2007, reports of an investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) were made public, which alleged that during the 2005 -2006 and 2006-2007 NBA Seasons, Referee Tim Donaghy bet on games which he officiated. Football betting cannot be overlooked in the various sports betting scandals that rocked the game.

The infamous 'Calciopoli' rocked Italian football in 2006 and affected several Italian clubs including winners Juventus, AC Milan, Fiorentina and a host of others. Italy recorded another scandal known as 'Scommessopoli '. Goal.com on Wednesday , June 1,2011 reported that 16 arrest were made across Italy at the end of an investigation led by the police in Cremona on football and betting.

It is no news that betting companies are playing major roles in sponsorship of clubs across the globe. In their quest to be seen as legitimate, they have spread their tentacles by investing in participating clubs of leagues. This is more dangerous.

However, this phenomenon is gaining currency in Ghana. Betting companies have invaded the local scene and are busily sponsoring clubs and placing matches in the Ghana Premier Clubs on their platforms. Clubs like Liberty Professionals, Medeama, Ashantigold SC, Aduana Stars and Inter Allies are being sponsored by betting companies.

It is not bad for well-performing companies to partner clubs and enhance their financial positions through sponsorship - but no one can underestimate the influence they may exert on the clubs to play to their gallery.

Ghanasoccernet.com on May 17, 2019 broke a strange news with the caption: Berekum Chelsea slaps 'chief bettor' goalkeeper after Bechem defeat'. The CEO of the club, Nana Kwame Nketsia, slapped goalkeeper Gideon Ahenkorah for conceding suspicious goals during their 3-1 defeat to Bechem United in the NC Special Competition. The club owner justified his action by saying that some of his players are involved in betting and Ahenkorah was the leader of the group. This clearly shows that betting is already comprising our games.

We should not lose sight of the recent ' Anas Number 12 Expose" which exposed the rots in our football. The documentary highlighted how managers of associations, clubs and national teams were compromised to take decisions and other illegal actions which brought the game into disrepute. Even though necessary sanctions have been meted out to those found culpable, we are not so sure of any proposed remedy.

But what is more worrying is the exposure of this betting centres to our teeming youth and teenagers. The Gaming Act, 2006, Act 721 (48) prohibits children. “A person responsible for a gaming machine shall not permit a child to use the gambling machine or to enter a place where the gambling machine is operated. This is not fully operational because one can see children below 18 years patronizing centres of betting companies. It is a common to see betting companies in all parts of the capital.

This business is booming to the extent that there over 20 betting companies operating in Ghana and they have several branches across the nations. In some cases, students in uniforms are seen in this centres and this is a worrying trend. We must not lose our future leaders to betting. We have lost our games and its integrity to betting enough but we must resist any attempt in losing our teeming youth to betting and its related activities.

Sports betting has come to stay but its problems can be dealt with if Gaming Commission strictly enforced the laws and work assiduously to ensure these companies comply. Licenses of betting companies that violate the laws of its establishment should be revoked if found culpable. The government should play a major role in handling the activities of betting companies in the country and also protect our younger generation from the negative effects of betting.

The security agencies should set up a task force to periodically inspect the premises of the betting centres and activate the law which prohibits children below the 18 years from participating in betting.

Source: Bright Boatri