Sports betting is increasingly gaining popularity in Ghana and so is the moto for Betway Ghana- one of the numerous betting companies in the country ‘for the love of the game’. Back in the day, football was a game watched by passionate football fans, today it is just a bunch of anxious gamblers sitting behind a screen shouting insults to individuals running after a ball to earn halal income.
Sports betting has won over the hearts of many Ghanaian youth, especially those in tertiary and second cycle institutions who see this despicable act of gambling as a source of somewhat easy income. The worrying sign about sports betting is its increasing popularity among Muslim communities and youth especially those in tertiary institutions.
Majority of Muslim brothers have forgotten about the promise of shaytan to Allah (SWA) in the glorious Quran (4:199) in which Iblis promises to lead mankind astray, and indeed he has numerous ways of leading us away from the straight path of Allah. Sports betting is just another digital plot by shaytan to lead mankind into disobedience of Allah, by leading them into ‘digital sins’ through the act gambling.
Not only did the Allah forbid mankind from indulging in acts of gambling (Quran 2:219), traditional Ghanaian society frowns on the act. Many well-meaning Ghanaians have expressed their displeasure on this act of gambling and how it’s gradually wining over Ghanaian youth, with some asking the government to place a ban on the act.
A closer look at sports betting and how fast it is winning over the hearts of Ghanaian youth, and one would realize that the Ugandan government made the right call in banning the act. But in a country with a National Lottery Authority that seeks to promote development through games, it is perfectly legal to gamble provided you have attained the legal age, a clear indication that sports betting has come to stay with us.
In the modern Ghanaian society, two main factors are responsible for the increasing popularity of sports betting: Our HEART desires and PEER Influence.
Let’s take a closer look at these two factors:
The human HEART is magnificent organ. Its nature can be compared to the steering wheel of car; whichever direction the wheel is turned, the body follows in suit. Humans by nature have desires, things that the heart drives the body to acquire and it is normal to have these desires. As creatures whose sole purpose is to serve our creator, our desires should not go against the boundaries our creator Has set for us and hence once we starting following our heart desires blindly, then you get the feeling that something is wrong somewhere.
Iblis is the greatest enemy of mankind and he made a promise to Allah that he will mislead us into following our heart desires and crossing that boundaries that He Allah has set for us, and indeed Iblis is a keeper of his word. In today’s modern world, it is our heart desires before the rules of Allah which is not supposed to be so. Our hearts are more inclined to the good things of this world than that of the hereafter and that is why sports betting has won over the youth so easily. Imagine your last GH¢1.0 being multiplied by 100 and given back to you for zero work done- a classical example of cheap income, which heart would not desire this?
Only hearts that have firm believe in their Lord and remembers that He is aware of everything within the hearts of men. Thinking about a way to salvage the youth from betting? There is no better way than guiding the hearts of the youth, for a guided heart has its desires in check.
The second major factor responsible for the popularity of sports betting among the youth is PEER INFLUENCE. Tertiary education is such that it brings together people from different backgrounds either ethnic, religious or even different nationalities and gives one the freedom to live whatever life he deems fit and to take responsibilities for his actions. Once you find yourself in a tertiary institution, you are regarded as an adult capable of thinking for yourself and working your way around obstacles in your way.
The people we associate with have a great impact on the decisions we make and the life we live- show me your friend and I will tell you who are. Some of the people we associate ourselves with in our tertiary institutions may not share our religious beliefs and the collapse of the traditional Ghanaian society makes it even more easy for most the tertiary school students to engage in this act of gambling without a second thought. Once we associate ourselves with these people, temptation sets in and the Muslim student is now more vulnerable to the whispers of the shaitan thereby forcing them into this act of gambling. Choose those you hang out with wisely and beware of the whispers of shaytan, for you loved the game even before sports betting was introduced.