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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More