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Sports betting catches a cold
3rd April, 23:28GLOBAL suspension of sporting activities due to the Covid-19 pandemic has left multitudes of sports punters miserable and some in the red.
Sports betting has over the years grown into a lucrative industry, catering for all sectors of life.
It has grown from being a past-time activity to a source of livelihood for many.
The unemployed found solace in predicting scores and results of sporting activities, while some employed people supplemented their income through betting.
Even businesspeople, elite members of society that place huge bets have been affected by the global shutdown of all activities.
International sporting federations adhered to World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines and cancelled all their activities.
Competitions, which include 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers, 2021 Afcon qualifiers, European leagues and other world football leagues cancelled their programmes, which were already in the bookmakers' schedule.
The Chan 2020 finals, a tournament that was supposed to have kicked off yesterday in Cameroon, with Zimbabwe in action against the hosts, was cancelled last month.
Events that draw worldwide attention that have also been postponed and pushed back are the French Open tournament that had been set for May and the Wimbledon tennis that had been set for end of June.
The Association of Tennis Professionals, Women's Tennis Association and International Tennis Federation tours announced that professional tennis would not return before July 12 after the cancellation of other summer grass-court events. The tour has been suspended since Indian Wells was cancelled on March 9.
Upcoming horse racing events in the UAE, America and Europe have also been cancelled and so are greyhound competitions.
Nyasha Chiweshe of Pumula East said the shutdown of sporting activities affected him financially, as he earns a living through betting.
"I'll be honest with you, I'm into the last monies I had saved hoping to use them to hoard stuff that I wanted to sell during the Easter holidays. I don't know where I'll get money because, all betting houses are closed and there's no betting. When they stopped football matches and other sports like basketball, we betted on dogs, which also pays handsomely. I think everyone who is into betting is praying that a solution is found for this coronavirus and we get back into business," said Chiweshe.
The 27-year-old Chiweshe said on a good month, he could hit a jackpot of up to $6 000, getting just above $1 500 a week.
Nkosilathi Malaba, who sells wares outside a betting shop in the city centre said: "It's tough. I've closed my stall because there's no one to sell to. I complemented my vending with betting and the cancellation of all sports has hurt us. We will see what to do."
At Old Pumula terminus, between the beer garden and Post Office, youths and elderly people can be found gambling in cards.
In Pumula East, a heavy police presence made it impossible for gamblers to conduct their card gambling behind the shops.
One of the gamblers, who identified himself as Mthazo, said they have set up bases where they gamble.
"There are houses where we gamble in Old Magwegwe. We also walk to Number 1 (Iminyela) where there's another spot. With betting shops closed, we're back to gambling in the neighbourhood. It's risky because on our way home we have to dodge police who will be on patrol. Personally, I don't like gambling at these spots, but I've no choice," Mthazo said.
Chronicle Sport learnt that similar betting houses, popularly known as "iztiki", have regained popularity in areas like Makokoba, Mzilikazi, Cowdray Park, Old Lobengula and Old Magwegwe. -- @ZililoR