Gambling machines 'invade' ghettos

OVER the years, gambling machines — popularly known as casinos in Zimbabwe — were a preserve for the rich and famous, who accessed these money-spinning machines in uptown clubs, but not anymore.

These gambling machines have now “invaded” most of the country’s high density suburbs like Kuwadzana Extension and Chitungwiza, where people play with as little as 25 cents at a time and have a chance to win up to $50.
In most countries, casino is big business, which generates millions of dollars and people win big at times, with high chances of losing big also.

These are life-changing games that have left others richer, while making others poor.

With such chances of losing money, the gambling machines became a preserve for those with money in Zimbabwe, making them only accessible in low density suburbs, hotels and clubs that host only the “big shots” in town.
However, the Weekend Post took time to visit Kawadzana Extension in Harare, where the gambling machines have provided some form of occupation to most unemployed youths.

This paper discovered that, while this phenomenon is still new in the high density suburbs, the youths have embraced it well.

The slot machines are small, and are placed in beerhalls in high density suburbs, where these youths take chances to play, depending on the strength of one’s pocket and his chances of winning.

A man only identified as Tawanda from Kuwadzana Extension told the Weekend Post that, while the rewards are small and hard to come by, there is always that temptation to slot his few coins in the gambling machine.
He said since he started the gambling business using these machines, luck has not always been on his side, as he has failed to win, resulting in him parting away with his few coins. But as fate would have it, he always finds himself back on the machines playing again and again.

“We come here almost every day. And it’s not every day that one gets to win but nevertheless we take the chances,” he said, pointing to his friend, whom he said had just won $10 the previous day.

The $10 was the highest amount that Tawanda’s friend won, since he started playing the game, even though he lost countless coins in the previous occasions.

While gambling is a quick money-spinning adventure, most people often suffer from addiction, which results in them parting away with huge sums of money.

Gambling addiction can sometimes spiral out of control to the extent of disrupting one’s life, even though some can control it.

But the youths in Kuwadzana Extension said they have no other option except to find something that they can do as they are unemployed and have nowhere else to get money. No matter how much they lose, the youths said they will keep playing, hoping one day they will strike the “jackpot”.

“This is the only money-spinning adventure left for us in the ghetto, and because it is something new, everybody is enjoying it. It is only at the end of the day, that you find you have actually lost all the few coins that you had.
“There are no jobs and we live by chance every day. This gambling game that we play is all about luck and we are willing to take the chances,” another man identified as Panjo told the Weekend Post.

Zimbabwe has been experiencing serious economic challenges that have seen the general populace turning to gambling to make money.

With unemployment levels reaching over 85 percent, gambling has been the only easy but painful way of making money.

Judging with the number of soccer betting shops that have been opened in city centres as well as ghettos, Zimbabwe has slowly turned into a gambling nation.

However, it is hard for most of these gamblers to win as they often lose. —Tendai Kamhungira

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