THE country’s gambling industry has exploded in recent years with the arrival of sports betting.

This industry was primarily based on bets on horse-racing, but things changed significantly in the past decade when gamblers started placing bets on football, cricket, rugby and all the other sporting disciplines.

Now, gamblers can place a bet on anything, when it comes to sport, like the number of corner kicks in a football match, even in the first half, and for the full match.

The punters can place bets on the number of goals which will be scored in the first half or the whole match, who will score first, the identity of the goal-scorers etc.

It’s a huge thing and it has attracted millions of Zimbabweans who are primarily betting on football games, and hoping for the best, every day throughout this country.

Statistics seem to suggest that millions of dollars are gambled every week and the betting houses are making a fortune while many of the gamblers are being trapped in debt and misery.

Gambling in this country is controlled by the law through the Lotteries and Gaming Board Act.

The Lotteries and Gaming Board is run by a board whose functions are to regulate and control the development and operation of all lotteries and gaming activities, to grant, renew, transfer and terminate licences in respect of lotteries and gaming activities and to ensure that licensees comply with the conditions of their licences.

According to the law, minors should not be sold tickets nor are they entitled to prizes and no betting house should sell a ticket to a person apparently under the age of 18.

A person under the age of 18 is entitled to recover any prize in a State lottery or on the local gambling scene.

However, we have seen a number of minors at gambling shops throughout the country.

It appears the gambling houses don’t care about the law and their only concern is to make money.

The other major concern, in this country right now, is the impact that gambling is having on the punters, who have found themselves addicted to this game and are chasing a ‘fortune’ every day.

Six years ago, the Zimbabwe Responsible Gambling Association revealed that they had set aside the first week of October for various activities to educate punters on responsible gambling.

This followed widespread reports of how the family fabric was being torn apart as a result of irresponsible gambling.

The organisation said it had come up with various initiatives designed to encourage community discussions about why irresponsible gambling was harming families, punters themselves and even the gaming operators.

But, after that, we didn’t see anything being done towards helping those who now have a gambling addiction.

The betting houses should invest in programmes which help the addicts in their industry and it’s something we expect to see on a big scale in this country.

They have a responsibility to these people and they can’t be there just to make money.