Soccer betting fanatics in the city

Godwin Muzari Arts Editor

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Many people have condemned gambling since many years ago when horse-betting was a popular practice associated with elderly men in high-density suburbs. The old men were so obsessed with betting and would make way to their popular spots every morning with sheets of horse-race timetables to place their bets with the hope of taking some dollars home or getting something for purchase of a day’s booze.They got addicted to the game and were not phased with the condemnation from their communities over betting.Debates over possible race results were usual in council bars where these punters were common.

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In Harare people of various ages spend time at betting houses and the most popular is soccer betting. \n

In Harare people of various ages spend time at betting houses and the most popular is soccer betting.

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In the higher-end of the cities, well-to-do horse-race followers went to racecourses to have fun while others from that end also placed bets for different races.A section of gamblers that did not enjoy horse-racing went for lotteries and at some point the State Lottery was the most popular.Then came the massively popular ‘Lotto’ that attracted a huge number of punters until it also faced competition from emerging lottos.

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As the gambling world evolved, many people have now turned to soccer betting, which has internationally made waves.On local soil betting houses sprouted in a forceful wave with international bookmakers getting serious attention from local fans. Betting houses in Harare include Soccer Shop, Mega Game and Supabets among others.

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Betting is no longer a preserve of the old men that spent noisy days at council bars. In Harare people of various ages spend time at betting houses and the most popular is soccer betting.

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People place bets on various football teams across the world and the new trend seems to have created more fanatics than horse-racing.Because of the popularity of football, soccer betting has indeed taken the city by storm. Although the city centre has the largest concentration of punters, many spots have also sprouted in residential areas.

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Betting houses in Harare include Soccer Shop, Mega Game and Supabets among others. \n

Betting houses in Harare include Soccer Shop, Mega Game and Supabets among others.

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Had it not been for a directive stopping the licensing of new houses, the rate at which they were sprouting could have been alarming.While there is a class of punters that just take time off their daily routines to try their luck with a few bets, there is a new crop of full-time betting individuals that throng the houses daily with some of them claiming they make a living from the practice.

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Most of the fanatics that spoke to Herald Lifestyle said they do not miss a day of betting. While they were not comfortable to share figures of their losses and wins, they admitted the practice is now an obsession.

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“There are times when big teams would be playing and these attract large numbers in the halls. I make sure that I come here every time when I am not occupied by family business. It started as a hobby and it is now part of my life,” said Cleopas Matanga who frequents a betting spot in the city centre.“I have won several times and that has kept me coming. Of course, there are bad days here and there but hope of winning again keeps me coming. I have made friends with many other colleagues that come here almost daily. We are like a family in this trade and we can lend each other some money when others win and some miss the predictions.”

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His friend at the same spot Onward Kaleni said he left his small business in the ghetto to concentrate on betting.“At first I would just go to my nearest betting shop to place my bets and go back to my stall where I repaired electrical appliances.“After winning big and buying some households good, which pleased my wife, I began frequenting the spot until my friend brought me to the city centre where we spend most days checking soccer fixtures of various international leagues and placing our bets. It will be difficult for me to spend a day without coming to my favourite spot.”

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In another betting house in the city centre, a punter named Israel Mafarira said despite losing on many occasions, betting has now become a habit.

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“I have not won much at the moment, but I see my friends pocketing good money and I know one day I will win. When I do not have money for betting my friends assist me. I have won a few dollars and I know with time I will win more. I am relatively new in the game, but I am enjoying the fun. So, winning is not my issue yet. The fun of it is driving me ahead.”

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However, besides the full-time punters, some professionals have been seen sneaking into the betting house to make quick bets when they get time from work.A punter employed by a city pharmacy, who only identified himself as Jose, said he goes to the betting shop everytime he gets money to place the bets.

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“You know, you can make something from as little as a dollar and I have learnt that I can get extra cash when I place some bets. The maximum I have placed on a bet so far is $10 and I have won on several occasions. I now know teams from various leagues.“Although my favourite teams are in the Spanish and English leagues, I sometime bet in little-known leagues just to cast the nets wide. Besides, small teams have less pressure because they do not have huge followings,” said Jose.

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While they have created fanatics, betting houses are making a lot of money and a customer-attendant at a popular sports betting shop said they cash unbelievable amounts.“When I began working here, I could not believe the figures I was handing over daily. I was also surprised by the amount that lucky punters can pocket. I think that is the reason why our shop is always full. I can cash an average of $5 000 a day and the most I have paid out to a customer was $11 000, which is rare.

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“Such big winning figures keep them coming. Although we have other sports on offer for betting, soccer is by far the most popular. Of course customers win every day, but the bookmakers always make a killing. Such is the business.”