News / Africa

Unemployed Liberian Youth Gravitate to Sports Gambling

FILE - A boy sells jerrycans at a market area in the Liberian capital of Monrovia.
FILE - A boy sells jerrycans at a market area in the Liberian capital of Monrovia.
Anne Look
Several international sports betting companies have set up shop in Liberia. Unemployed young people gather at these betting parlors to gamble on things like televised soccer matches. Some say it is a good source of income and occupation, but others are not so sure.
 
Here at this betting parlor in Monrovia run by the company Winner's Incorporated, young men watch soccer matches on flat-screen TVs. They place bets and wait for the results.
 
The company's marketing manager, Randall Kaybee, said sports betting is "transforming the lives of Liberians" for just a few LD, or Liberian dollars, per bet.
 
"As you just enter my office, as you can see from this evidence. This is a ticket. Somebody bet 50 LD and winning 233,275 Liberian dollars," said Kaybee.

Lucrative, legal lure

Fifty Liberian dollars, is about 60 cents in U.S. currency. That pay-out he quoted is just over $2,700. He said winnings can be as much as five times that.
 
Thirty-seven-year-old Harris Kokeh has a college degree, but could not find a job - so he started betting. "I really been living by it. It has been helping me a lot. The last time I won about 700 United States dollars. It was a great help to me," he said.
 
Kaybee of Winner's Incorporated said the company has been in Monrovia since 2010, but the industry really picked up in 2012 when other companies started setting up shop in the area. He insisted they are not preying on the poor.
 
"The game of sports betting is give and take. For example, if everybody should bet on Barcelona today and Barcelona loses, Winner's Incorporated benefits. If everybody should bet on Barcelona today and Barcelona wins, Winner's Incorporated loses. The customers benefit," said Kaybee.

He said they hire young people to work at their branches around the country, creating hundreds of jobs.

These sports betting operations are legal in Liberia and are regulated by the government.

Deep concerns

An official at Liberia’s Ministry of Youth, Henry Coleman, said, "With the presence of these institutions, we are very excited and we are in agreement with their operation in the country. This will help to promote a government poverty reduction strategy."
 
But not everyone agrees this is a good thing, like 36-year-old Harrison Myers. "This gambling thing is bad for our society. Our youth are not going to school any longer," he said. "They spend the entire day at the gambling center."
 
Some say the expansion of legal sports betting is fueling more illegal street gambling, and also is sapping young people's motivation.
 
But back at the betting parlor, 28-year-old unemployed father of two, Theo Varney, said they do not have much choice. "We have no much facility to take care of our affairs, so what do you expect? We are not betting because we want to bet. We are betting because we want to make our living."
 
Winner's Incorporated says more than 7,000 Liberians bet at their locations around the country each week, and 300 to 400 of them walk away winners.   

Prince Collins reported from Monrovia, Liberia.

You May Like

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Bobby M. Kargbah from: Matadi, Monrovia, Liberia
February 04, 2014 5:03 AM
Muslims also gamble in Liberia.
In Response

by: Prince J.Dalieh from: USA
February 04, 2014 10:27 PM
Perhaps,mentioning about religion in this matter is insignificant because gambling has nothing to with once been Muslim or Christian.

Actually,this issue about gambling is getting repaid in Liberia to be precised.I left Liberia a year ago and my time been there I noticed that most of our youth had turn to gambler through the popular gambling company called ''WINNER''.Even those some people managed to get their daily bread through gamble. In the other hand,gambling is also damaging our youth mind with money instead of pay full attention to school and become tomorrow leaders.

by: Momodou Gajaga from: Gambia
February 03, 2014 5:16 AM
I guess those people engage in gambling in Liberia are not Muslims, because our religion condemn all forms or making money illegally including gambling.

by: Teddykollie Kangbai from: Morovia Liberia
January 31, 2014 2:42 AM
I think they need a means of income that is better then this.

by: varney kamara from: Columbus ohio
January 30, 2014 6:03 PM
My personally point of view it's not in the interest of the. Youths

by: Ulysses from: Yekepa
January 30, 2014 5:14 PM
The youth of Liberia need better development and job opportunity, not gambling stations.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs