The plethora of gambling platforms in Cameroon today is compelling many workers in the Cameroon public service to abandon their duty post in the quest of making fast money through betting.
Many civil servants, military officers spend very little time at the duty post; others leave their homes for work but do not show up at their offices and are seen in betting joins arguing about their bets.
Many youths have equally embraced gambling as their only source of living and a means to make quick money.
Those in schools do not attend lectures, but prefer to stay at betting boots, while others who have graduated resort to gambling to earn a living.
What attracted this reporter is the increasing number of these gambling platforms in the country, quick government approval and the adoption tendencies of many Cameroonians to these platforms.
In a country that is rich and heavenly blessed with natural and mineral resources, but still ranked under Botswana, Rwanda, Namibia, Ghana, etc in terms of a healthy Entrepreneurship Ecosystem, the country has seen a plethora of gambling platforms and how money games have taken the centre stage of the country’s economy to the extent where they are even given a thought of and debated at the Parliament on how to make the sector better with policies.
First it was PMUC, but since their core target market which was the adults and aged couldn’t keep up with their forecasted revenue growth, it has been innovated to accommodate youths.
To make it worse, was the introduction of Coin-Machines gambling introduced by the Chinese which has led to the disappearance of coins in circulation.
Now comes other betting platforms with different brand names (Parifoot). Interestingly, all these platforms are owned by foreigners and the Government seems to give priority to these gambling platforms than locally owned enterprises.
In an economy where youth unemployment is on the upsurge, where potential and existing entrepreneurs are craving for a healthy entrepreneurship ecosystem garnished with good policies, all we get are bills to better manage money games that will cripple youths further and make them more vulnerable as “cutting ticket” has become a source of solace.
A public service user will enter an office to get his/her document signed only for him/her to be told that the person in charge has gone to use the restroom then the person resurface after hours with betting tickets.
The public service user has to wait for hours for the civil servant to finish his/her betting “cutting ticket” before being attended to.
Some will even discuss about the bets for hours before attending to the public service uses, who have been standing in front of them for hours.
Military men abandoned their duty post, checkpoints and traffic maintenance on congested roads and queue up in front of betting boots like Parifoot and PMUC to bet “cutting ticket”.
In universities like every Government institutions in Cameroon, administrative staff also abandoned their duty post in the quest to make quick money in the form of gambling.
The recurrent nature of these irresponsible acts perpetuated by some of these administrators is a cause for concern and has compelled this reporter to investigate the reason behind their recent conduct.
A source working at the secretariat of one of the universities told this reporter that poor salaries received by most support staff has prompted them to seek other alternative ways of making fast money.
“We are poorly paid. The amount we received as salaries cannot pay our bills and other expenses, so we must resort to other avenues to make money. I don’t miss cutting tickets, most at times I leave my duty post, sneak out of campus and play Parifoot. Even if I have many students to attend to, I will tell them to wait until am back. This gambling pays almost all my bills. In a week, I cut like five different tickets, I will lose some and I will win others. I make an average of FCFA 55,000 weekly. This amount helps me to solve my pressing issues”, our source revealed.
When asked if he is given permission to leave his duty post for gambling, our source said “at times I tell my colleagues that I am going for lunch or to use the restroom. Most at times I just leave my duty post then comes back after two or three hours. My colleagues will cover up for me, should a higher authority ask of after me. I also gamble for my colleagues. We all play Parifoot in this office”.
Another source, a Police Officer at one of the Police Stations in Buea told the National Times reporter that playing Parifoot is better than standing on the road to collect FCFA 500.
“I prefer to go to a betting boot than to stand on the road. I make huge sum of money through betting. During weekends when the European football leagues are on-going, I bet all the matches in the various leagues. I go home with about FCFA 90,000 to 120,000, which is more than my monthly salary combined with the FCFA 500 I collect on the road. The truth is money collect on checkpoints are shared into three different quotas and I end up going home with just FCFA 10,000 to 15,000 weekly”.
Our source added that the current insecurity in Buea has prevented him to stand on checkpoints for fear of being gun down by the pro-independence fighters.
“You know there is a lot of insecurity now, standing at checkpoints is very risky because the Amba Boys can launch a surprise attack at any time. I prefer to go to betting boots because there are many youths at the boots to gamble. It is difficult for the Amba Boys to attack such a place given that many civilians are present at the gambling house. When I am assigned to a checkpoint, I will go there and stand for a while then relocate to a betting boots to gamble”, our military source opined.
The National Times interviewed many youths to know their reason for gambling. From the findings, The National Times gathered that the lack of jobs, high cost of living and the need to solve monetary issues.
Some youths in Buea stated that the lucrative nature of gambling platforms like Parifoot and Coins-machines compelled them to engage in betting.
Others blame the Buea Council for the demolition of their small businesses.
“The Buea Council destroyed my business premise because it was by the roadside and with the current Crisis; I cannot raised money to rent a better structure. I have no other choice but to gamble in order to survive”, Atem David stated.
The legalisation and prioritisation of these gambling platforms over home based enterprises by the Government despite the fact that it is owned by foreigners could be one of the reasons why youths have resorted to gambling as the only source of livelihood.