There is a greater need to teach SA youngsters how to gamble responsibly. Thankfully there are resources available.
Never before has the subject of responsible gambling in Africa been such an important one. Governments and legislators need to put it at the top of their lists of priorities before things get out of control.
Gambling is not a new pastime. Casinos have been part of Africa’s landscape for decades, and betting has always been part of the continent’s culture in one form or another.
Gambling is popular among the young and old, whether it takes place at a township street corner or in one of South Africa’s opulent brick-and-mortar casino resorts, such as Sun City, and in most instances is a fun pastime.
Sports betting is most prevalent among South Africa’s youth, who find it to be a great way to follow their favourite teams and hopefully make some money in the process.
There has always been a small portion of gambling public that goes overboard on the activity and gambles irresponsibly. If not held in check, this behavior could lead to a gambling addiction.
Online Gambling Enters the Ring
In the past decade or so, another factor has come into play: Online gambling
Unarguably, the world of online gambling is a very tempting one, especially because of the fact that it offers the prospect of winning a huge amount of money easily. This probably rings true for many people who might be looking to earn a quick buck – particularly South African youths.
With unemployment rates being so high, many youngsters are resorting to online betting because they feel the pressure. Yet, despite losing, they still continue to bet, and consequently, lose even more. It’s a vicious cycle and one which can only be broken with education and raising awareness about the importance of responsible gambling. Apart from benefitting the general public, it would also teach the very people who need to put this theory into practice the most.
Targeting Vulnerable Players
It is much easier to get caught up in the world of online gambling because there are fewer regulations in place. If you walk into a regular brick-and-mortar casino, you will be asked for ID. If you can’t prove that you’re over 18, you’ll be asked to leave.
Playing at an online gambling site allows players to circumvent strict identity control.
Youngsters are lured with promises of free casino credit when they sign up for an account, and usually don’t read the small print which spells out the terms and conditions of no deposit bonuses.
They are also blinded by promises of huge payouts and jackpots, which allows them to believe that they have a way out of their poverty and unemployment status.
What can be done?
The most important thing that educators, regulators and other authorities need to do is stress the need to gamble responsibly.
There are many services available to gamblers who believe that they are developing a gambling problem, and they should be brought the general public’s attention across multiple media channels.
For example, the South African Responsible Gambling Foundation, operator of its flagship National Responsible Gambling Programme, is a public-private initiative between the SA government gambling regulators and the country’s gambling industry.
The Foundation offers free prevention programs to gambling industry operators and regulators to equip their employees with the knowledge of how to handle problem gamblers.
In addition, the Foundation runs a counselling line which operates 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The hotline provides free support, information, assessment and referral to counselling at one of the treatment centers throughout the country.
Gamblers who think that they have a gambling problem, or even family members of problem gamblers, can turn to the counselling line and start treatment in a safe, confidential and non-threatening environment.
How to Gamble Responsibly
There are a few rules of thumb that everyone should follow if they gamble for real money.
- Understand that gambling is a form of entertainment and won’t make you rich.
- Only gamble with money that you can afford to lose.
- Never chase losses.
- Remember that the casino always has an edge over its players.
- Set yourself limits and stick to them! Decide how much you will spend and how long you will play at the casino.
- Never gamble if you’re drunk or under the influence of something.
- Don’t use gambling to get away from your real-life troubles.
- If you feel that your behavior is getting out of hand, seek help!
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