A few months ago, I walked into a gambling house at 11am. I saw a nurse in uniform, a man in a suit and an old lady with a walking stick amongst very many others. These people; different genders, ages and from all walks of life sat in this dark, loud room with flashing lights, feeding money into a machine and losing it all. In the ten minutes that I was in this place, I watched several people walk in and take a seat in front of a machine… no body walked out.
Earlier this year, a daily newspaper ran an article on how a new board for casinos has been appointed to advice the Minister of Environment and Tourism on the new Gambling Act for the purpose of “protecting vulnerable members of society, who are affected by gambling”. The same article later went on to state that Cabinet had also approved the appointment of members to the Lotteries Board to advise the minister on drafting the Lotteries Bill. The article said “The Bill is being drafted to have a mechanism in which government can raise funds from lotteries to benefit certain parts of the country and to assist in the upliftment of the Namibian people.” Perhaps I’m the only one who doesn’t understand this but, OK.
How many people in Namibia wait at the ATM at midnight on pay day to withdraw all their money before the debit orders come off? How many people have lost their assets and/or are in unrecoverable debt because of gambling? How many will be too many?
I don’t understand why I hear an advertisement on radio every single morning for a gambling house in which I’m told to gamble “responsibly”. We’re all very aware of the dangers of gambling. Telling someone to gamble “responsibly” is like telling someone to shoot up heroin “responsibly”. Gambling is a drug like any other. The inherent nature of drugs means there is no such thing as responsible drug use.
When I was at school, sometimes an ex drug addict would tell us about the dangers of doing drugs during assembly. The only person who ever spoke to me about gambling is my mom, luckily for me, when my mom speaks, you listen. Yes, we have a serious narcotics problem in Namibia which honestly, I think we’re also not addressing as aggressively as we should but, can we please do something about this very legal, very well advertised poison?
- Ndapewoshali Ndahafa Ashipala