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By Enkosi Selane

Digital Journalist

WATCH: Women and pensioners among ‘vulnerable’ groups, says Gauteng Gambling Board

The GGB CEO said the board is most worried about those who gamble in illegal facilities without even knowing it.

Gambling is a fun and exciting activity enjoyed by many for different reasons. However, this industry of chance becomes problematic when factors such as illegal gambling and problem gamblers come into play.

The Gauteng Gambling Board (GGB) chief executive officer (CEO) Karabo Mbele said women and pensioners were among the top demographic of gamblers. She also shared concern over the increasing illegal gambling spots both online and offline.

‘Possible vulnerable groups’

The gambling industry attracts a wide array of people from various backgrounds. Among these groups are pensioners, the youth, the middle class and women.

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According to Mbele a study conducted for the 2022/2023 term showed a trend of women and pensioners being at the top of the gambling demographic.

“You find a lot of women gamblers, not problem gamblers. Women gamble more,” she said.

She added that the youth is more interested in online gambling, while pensioners have certain days of gambling where they are even offered transport and given cheap betting slips and free plays.

The CEO expressed concern over the certain narrowness in the gambling demographic when it comes to vulnerable groups.

“You also see its narrowness when you see unemployment gaps, and wage gaps because people want to go and increase their wages by going to a facility.

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“We have noted that the pensionable ages, the pensioners are pretty vulnerable they have a lot of time on their hands and so they spend a lot of time in [gambling] facilities. And sometimes they get bored and so they go from one facility to another [facility] which may not be licensed,” she added.

WATCH: Gauteng Gambling Board CEO on those who are vulnerable:

Illegal gambling and problem gamblers

People who have a lot of time on their hands and people living in unfavourable conditions are more prone to becoming problem gamblers. The issue here is not knowing when to stop, says the gambling board executive.

Mbele says the GGB offers programmes where people like pensioners who are unable to make decisions for themselves, can be blocked from gambling by their families or relatives. Moreover, there is also a self-exclusion programme where a person can get free therapy.

However, she says people even resort to travelling to other provinces or crossing borders to satisfy their gambling fix.

“Some people are excluded by the courts, because there is a third party exclusion done by the family.

“We had a summit where the people of Botswana said ‘we have a problem, we exclude people but they just cross the border and they come into South Africa’,” said Mbele.

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The surge in the illegal gambling industry is troubling, according to Mbele, because the criminals are good at hiding it.

“We close down over 400 illegal gambling facilities annually, but the next year again we have another 400 plus.”

The CEO said the board is most worried about those who gamble in illegal facilities without even knowing it. She said illegal sites can often be spotted by the lack of certification, the location where the spot is at, a lack of security guards, rules, regulations and signs, as well as loan sharks who give you alternatives when your money has run out.

“Illegal spots are normally small, they are normally dingy. They do not advertise themselves,” Mbele added.

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