Bookies bet on all sorts

2015-05-21 06:00
Two men hold boards bearing betting odds for names of the new royal baby during a PR stunt outside the Lindo wing of St Mary’s Hospital in central London where Britain’s Katherine, Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to her second child. PHOTO: REUTERS

Two men hold boards bearing betting odds for names of the new royal baby during a PR stunt outside the Lindo wing of St Mary’s Hospital in central London where Britain’s Katherine, Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to her second child. PHOTO: REUTERS

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KWAZULU-NATAL residents can bet on almost anything, with bookies maintaining that if the price is right, and the odds are good, it is game on.

As of March, the KZN Gaming and Betting Board and the KZN Treasury allow provincial bookmakers to take bets against a series of lotteries around the world, including those run in countries like Austria, Belgium, Russia, Turkey, Mauritius and Canada.

But an organisation treating gambling addiction believes South Africa needs less forms of gambling rather than more, saying that these new forms of gambling target poor families and hook them into taking bigger risks.

The latest developments mean a gambler could bet on the individual outcomes of several lottos globally in just one day. One bookie confirmed that this form of gambling is growing rapidly, and could soon match takings seen in bets on soccer matches.

“We’ve had guys place bets as small as R10 and walking off with several hundred thousand rands in the past. The players come to it because of the high odds. It is purely luck driven,” said Marshall’s World of Sport betting clerk Jerome Joganna. Punters are technically not buying a ticket to play these global lottos, but rather taking bets on numbers likely to be found in the winning number, including the bonus ball.

According to the KZN Treasury, these lotteries are not being played in KZN. “Betters who take bets with bookmakers that offer odds on the result of an approved foreign lottery, are not participating in that foreign lottery. The better is transacting a bet with a KZN bookmaker. Bookmakers and totalisators pay gambling taxes on any and every bet that they transact, and these taxes are paid into the Provincial Revenue Account of KwaZulu-Natal,” said Treasury spokesperson Ntokozo Maphisa.

Dr Prakash Naidoo, who treats patients at the Assisted Recovery Centres of Africa (ARCA), Durban said while gambling cannot be banned, it has become more accessible. “People are playing from the comfort of their own home and when they need help, it is already too late. We shouldn’t actively promote it,” said Naidoo.

He said poor families are usually the victims, losing their homes and other assets, and even jobs. “Gambling addiction disproportionately affects the poor, and then they don’t have the funds to find treatment,” said Naidoo.

Bet-takers said the South African appetite for risky bets in the political or social realm was low.

“For example, betting on whether President Jacob Zuma would step down from office this year is a bet we wouldn’t take. There are too many variables and the odds would be too volatile. Secondly, certain people would be privy to early information and could then have an advantage over others,” said Joganna.

But one bookie from Hollywood Bets, who asked not to be named, said the volume of this type of betting is rapidly gaining steam. “We only began with the betting on lottos last year, but this has grown considerably and we believe it could equal revenue takings usually the reserve of soccer in a few months,” he said. In the 2013/2014 financial year, the KwaZulu-Natal Gaming and Betting Board collected R526 million in gaming and betting taxes. Currently, the province has five casinos, eight bingo operations, has issued 83 bookmaking rights and has two racecourse operators

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