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, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs