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Zimbabwe Youth Turn to Gambling as Economic Crisis Worsens

FILE: In this Friday, July 2, 2010 picture an unidentified man shows dirty one dollar notes before washing them in Harare, Zimbabwe. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

FILE: In this Friday, July 2, 2010 picture an unidentified man shows dirty one dollar notes before washing them in Harare, Zimbabwe. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Many youth in Chinhoyi are now resorting to gambling and betting as a form of employment as the economic crisis continues to worsen in Zimbabwe.

Mzari low density suburb youth, 21 year-old Shakespeare Mlilo, says in the absence of jobs in the country he has taken to betting, hoping by luck he can make a dollar to live as many struggle to make ends meet.

Mlilo says he and other youth have resorted to gambling to earn a living as company closures have seen the number of jobs available on the market continuing to dwindle. It's now more of who you know even to get the smallest of jobs.

On a good day, he says, he can get as much as $500 after betting with just one dollar.

“To myself and others it is like a form of employment because rather than to wait for money from outside it is difficult to find it but on betting you just bet even a dollar then you get something like $440 or $500 like us who are not employed it will be good,” he says.

Betting shops are all over the place with Africa Bet and Africa Lotto leading the way.

The youth can bet on virtually anything that is of interest, in particular world sports. The shops are always packed sometimes there's not even room to stand as jobless youth try their luck in a bid to feed their families.

Chikonohono high density suburb resident, George Chitengo, said he is surviving on British and Spanish soccer betting and often wins because he knows how the teams play.

“As for myself I’m good in soccer leagues (like the) premier league,” says Chitengo.

Another gambler, who did not want to be identified, said some people like him take betting as a hobby and entertainment.

“Some of them they find it as a hobby but most of them it’s lack of employment so betting is now sort of employment to them and others it’s a hobby. Some it’s sort of entertainment for it’s just a hobby, when I win I enjoy it,” he says.

But some parents are not amused by the number of youth who have turned to gambling which they say is a vice in the society.

Alaska parent, Artwell Mazarure, is one such parent. “As a Christian country our Christian principles forbid gambling besides that the definition for gambling is risking your money for an event which you are not in control,” says Mazarure.

Spoken Word ministry's Pastor Tonderai Makaya says as a church they are not surprised by the number of youth turning to gambling. He says it is a sign of the times.

Makaya says this shows that people are in extreme poverty and like those who gambled during the bible times, they are desperate to earn a living.

He says, “We find it in the book of Nehemiah, people were gambling with their inheritance the reason being because most of them they were left in Israel. Other people they went to Babylon … because of poverty because of lack of anything, they started to gamble with their property and when Nehemiah came back he asked them –why are you doing this.”

Due to the increased cliental base from mainly the youth ,Africa Bet and Africa Lotto have opened more than 100 outlets throughout the country.