Gambling addiction takes toll as economy bites

SEBABATSO CHAKELA AND ’MAPALO NKHELOANE

MASERU - More and more betting outlets are sprouting, replacing food outlets in downtown Maseru as the unemployment rate rises and poverty deepens. But is this anything new? In the olden days before Basotho were exposed to modern gambling, they used to engage in Mo-China or Fa-Fi, as well as cow racing. Women, especially the elder ones, took to Fa-Fi betting, while cow racing was the men’s favourite. Mo-China was a numbers game, which consisted of numbers from 1 to 36 with each number having a character or name.

For example, number 27 would be represented by a model of a dog, while number 30 was represented by an effigy of a priest. Fa-fi participants choose the number they want to gamble on by interpreting their dreams. The dream interpretation on conversion is based upon a variety of systems. When they have decided upon their lucky number, participants will then place a bet on their chosen number. A dream about robbers may symbolise the number 7, which represents a con man. A dream about the sea could represent the number 3, which is “big water”.

The game requires a woman runner who would take a bag of bets along with the names of the gamblers and their money to someone, who visits the station (house) of the runner holding the betting session. That person would take the bag from the runner and then whisper the winning number to her. The runner would then indicate with her hands to the gamblers which number has won and that person would be paid out.The draw took place twice a day; in the morning and in the aft ernoon and for every draw only one number was chosen.

For cow racing the cattle would be taken out to race and every animal had a tag, usually on its neck. The men would predict which cow was going to make it to the finishing line first and if the prediction was right then that meant victory and there would be prizes to be won. All of that came to an end as the world evolved and modernisation took over rendering such forms of betting obsolete.Then modern betting houses such as G-bets came on the scene and took Lesotho by storm. Basotho, especially the youth, make way to G-bets houses at such an alarming rate that one would think they had long awaited its arrival.

G-bets outlets in the city of Maseru, especially the one at Pitso ground, are always jam-packed. This particular one is always so full that people have to be outside because the space inside cannot accommodate everybody. Some arrive with a smile and leave with sad, long faces while, occasionally, some come out smiling from ear to ear. Although the betting fanatics all go there with the same motive, which is to make money, everyone minds his or her own business. G-bets is one of South Africa’s premium Sports Betting companies. Its core functions are to operate a viable and thriving business, provide legitimate, high quality entertainment, and also serve as an agent for transformation and uplift ment of local community.

G-bets currently holds Bookmarker Licences in six South African provinces as well as regionally in Lesotho, Tanzania and Mozambique. The GoldRush group recently announced that it is excited and pleased at the way the Lesotho gaming market has embraced and interacted with its product. November 2017 saw the official launch of Gbets.co.ls. William Reyneke, Operations Director of G-bets online gaming says the launch of Gbets.co.ls was testament to Goldrush’s overall passion and commitment to the citizens of Lesotho and their desire for a variety of gaming products.

“With the Goldrush Gaming Group successfully running six G-bets stores and a fully functional casino in Lesotho, we found that there was inherent local demand for convenient and instant online betting solution; something the Lesotho market had not seen and experienced before, thus launching an online sports betting book was a natural and easy decision to make,” Reyneke says.Reyneke says said he is proud that G-bets is the first company to offer online betting in Lesotho, further indicating that they are pleasantly surprised by the way Basotho have taken up and embraced Gbets.co.ls.

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