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 Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    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.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora