Addicts who are addicted to sports gambling get a headache.

When Liverpool defeated Manchester United 5-0 a few weeks ago, we were sat in the office, our jaws open as we watched the game. The game was one I did not want to linger on too much, for fear of reviving old scars for the Red Devils’ supporters.

When one of us was talking about his closest buddy throughout the game, he said that he was just 90 minutes away from being the newest billionaire in the neighborhood. The story goes that this buddy had put a multibet on a number of different sporting events and had, up until this point, been completely correct, with the exception of one game: Manchester United against Liverpool. The only thing that stood between him and a cool Sh1.8 million was a Manchester United victory, on which he had placed his life savings. Despite our best efforts, we couldn’t help but shed a tear for a friend of our colleague as Mohammed Salah and his teammates brutally transformed Old Trafford into a theatre of horrors and condemned the Red Devils to hell.

The anecdote got me thinking about how difficult it is to be a sports gambler — or, to put it another way, how difficult it is to be a wekezaji (investors). The ability to ride such a roller coaster of emotions while being rational must be no easy feat.

One of our coworkers, who was watching the game, shared his thoughts on why he had to give up betting on the game.

“As a football fan, you are often torn between two opinions. You may be compelled to wager against your favorite team since they are underdogs against their opponents on a number of occasions. So you’re watching a soccer match and you’re rooting for the opponent to win because you have money invested in them, but you’re also emotionally invested in your team’s success. My ability to deal with the stress was just non-existent.”

Years ago, I became acquainted with a fitness trainer who worked at a gym in Kangemi that I used to attend. He was a happy-go-lucky person who was always prepared to provide helpful ideas on how I might bulk up and get more muscular mass.

On other days, he would grow irritable for no apparent reason and refuse to even go to the gym to exercise. He would be sat at his desk, his gaze fixed on his smartphone, which he would sometimes slam against the table in a fit of rage. I subsequently discovered that his sulkiness was caused by his bets failing to come through – in street slang, this is referred to as bet imeungua. In contrast, there was a moment when he earned a tidy sum of Sh 70,000 and was beaming from ear to ear.

The consequences of a gambler’s failure to make a profit affect not only the gambler himself or herself, but also his or her family and close acquaintances. One of my coworkers mentioned how many gamblers utilize the money that would otherwise be used to pay for school fees, rent, or loans to make bets instead. This has resulted in a family that is trapped in a web of debt, arguments, drug addiction, and divorce.

Sports betting is a game of chance in which you have a 50/50 chance of winning. My own opinion is that it is not worthwhile to suffer from frequent racing pulses; but, for those who do not care about such symptoms, I say… to each his or her own.

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