By Paul Eduarko Richardson
Accra, Dec. 05, GNA – Mr Anis Haffar, Founder, Gifted And Talented Education (GATE) Institute, has called for a massive campaign against children’s involvement in gambling.
He said the rate at which children engaged in gambling, especially sports betting, was alarming, a situation that had led to increased truancy and lack of concentration among students.
“Every leader in this country—every religious leader, every political leader, every educational leader—we should all be on the bandwagon and start ‘Say No to Gambling’ campaign,” he said.
Mr Haffar made the call at the 9th Baraka Policy Institute (BPI) Annual Public Lectures in Accra.
The annual lectures started in 2015 and geared towards highlighting critical issues of national concern, especially on education.
The 2023 edition was on the theme: “Towards achieving the SDGs on Education: Tackling social-economic forces against progress in Ghana”.
Participants came from various senior high and tertiary institutions, faith-based and civil society organisations, government institutions, the private sector, security and law enforcement agencies, media, among others.
Speaking on the topic: “Tackling the dangers of Sports Betting on Education—Policies, Strategies and Actions,” Mr Haffar asked the student participants to become ambassadors and change makers by leading the “Say No to Gambling” campaign in their schools.
He encouraged students to use social media wisely by uploading innovative and problem-solving content whilst avoiding any debasing activities on social media.
Mr Haffar called on the Gaming Commission and other relevant regulatory bodies to strictly enforce the laws on gambling with regard to children.
Dr Adam Yunus, Head of Research, BPI, noted that, according to the Gaming Act, 2006 (Act 721), a person responsible for a gambling machine shall not permit a child to use the gambling machine or to enter a place where the gambling machine was operated.
The Act also says that stationary outdoor advertising shall not be placed within 200 metres of preschools, first and second cycle schools, children’s playground and any other facilities designed for the use of underage persons (Below 18).
Dr Yunus noted that, however, some gaming companies were completely violating those laws, a situation that called for urgent attention and action.
Mrs Wendy Addy-Lamptey, Head of National Office, West African Examinations Council (WAEC) Ghana, said children must change the misconception that betting made people rich and rather realise that the practice made people lose money.
She emphasised that because of the addictive nature of betting, it was best for children not to start the practice in the first place.
Dr Mohammed-Sani Abdulai, President, Lakeside University College, said tackling children’s involvement in gambling required collaboration among government, academia and research institutions, industry, and young people.
He proposed the organisation of hackathons where young people could channel their energies productively by building innovative computer programmes.
Mr Iddris Yunus, from the Ghana Immigration Service, urged the media to sensitise young people on the negative effects of sports betting so that it would inspire the youth to avoid the practice.
The Baraka Policy Institute is a think tank with special focus on promoting social justice and national development through advocacy and research.