Almost every street you walk on, there are sports betting centres. Unknown to some people, these facilities have attracted the attention of a section of society that had never dreamed of stepping into a casino. As one man found out, addiction to betting has brought him more pain than gain.
It is fun being with friends, doing silly things like drinking in the club or even going to the beach to unwind.
I guess that is the ideal because when you add sports betting to the mix, suddenly that is what your whole world revolves around. It is the true definition of selfishness and greed.
All you care about is yourself and how much you’re earning. This is not farfetched because betting has been my lifestyle for the last eight years.
I guess with all those years under my belt, I should be called a consultant.
I know everything about sports betting yet all I can say about it is that it has not been a fun ride. I have had a few lucky chances; I even hit the bull’s eye once and won a Shs1.6m!
I was happy, and for a moment I thought this could be a lucrative way of making easy money.
It became routine for me to sacrifice my Shs2,000 lunch money to one of those numerous red and blue-painted rooms along the way from Kyambogo university.
There was nothing fancy about these places save for medium size plasma screens showing football (It’s all they show anyway), my interest was to place my bet.
Of course I always make arrangements on which teams to bet on. I am a sworn Arsenal diehard, and whenever they play I cannot miss to place my bet.
But you see, the disadvantage of this kind of betting, unlike the casino type is, you cannot bet on only one team. There are plenty of options to choose from.
So by the time you place your lunch money on the counter, a whole list of other teams playing that day is in the other hand waiting to be spelled out too.
And when the kapapula, as we call it, is ready, out of the Shs2,000, you are promised a cool Shs3m return. Yeah, you can imagine the ecstasy, the anticipation and of course, the doubt written in your eyes as they turn to phase two of the whole betting process, which is watching the matches.
Doing this from a betting house is free. It would have been a lot of fun, if it wasn’t for the crowds that always gather around for the spectacle too. I had never imagined that I would spend my precious time chatting up a boda boda man, or hawker.
At university, such people are looked at as low lives, guys who never went to school.
But at the betting house, we are all on the same footing.
By the way it is not that I make a lot of money through this scheme because somehow whenever I win, I end up “re-investing” and most times I do not get it back. It’s like a ghost possesses me demanding that I throw away my money.
My eyes are either glued on street TVs showing matches or discretely listening to the radio for any sports commentator’s voice.
Everyone thinks I am a joker. None of my friends want to hang out with me anymore because they grew tired of me constantly asking them for the scores or a soft loan.
I was blessed to get a job right after university, but that did not last long too because of the betting addiction.
I would arrive late at work just because I had to hand in my money at the counter, postpone appointments with potential clients to catch a match.
I was fired and given all my dues. Rather than save this money, I invested all this money in betting, not because I was unwise, but I was simply trying to multiply it.
Once, I even placed my brother’s fees at the counter in the hope of getting Shs33m in return. It was all blown and I had to get a loan to pay his school dues.
Things never worked out like I had anticipated, although I had been warned by those who had quit earlier. But I could not bring myself to stop as it seems the ghost keeps demanding for its daily sacrifice.
My longtime girlfriend broke up with me because she saw no future with me if my source of income was betting.
I am jobless, totally broke and still trying to fight off the addiction. I think I have lost about Shs20m in betting and I am desperate for a solution but so far nothing has worked.
I even sought help by sharing the problem with friends instead they just laughed at me. I hope one day I will overcome this addiction and lead a normal life.
According to helpguide.org, Gambling addiction, also known as compulsive gambling, is a type of impulse-control disorder. Compulsive gamblers cannot control the impulse to gamble, even when they know their gambling is hurting themselves or their loved ones. Gambling is all they can think about and all they want to do, no matter the consequences. Compulsive gamblers keep gambling whether they are up or down, broke or flush, happy or depressed. Even when they know the odds are against them, even when they can’t afford to lose, people with a gambling addiction can’t “stay off the bet.
As told to Patrick Wabuteya