In a bold declaration, Hassan Ayariga, the founder and leader of the All People’s Congress (APC), has pledged to ban betting if elected President, asserting that it fosters a culture of laziness.

Mr. Ayariga contends that redirecting the focus of young people towards technological innovation should take precedence over betting activities.

He argues that the revenue generated from betting taxes would be unnecessary under his leadership.

“But why are we betting because betting is an avenue for lazy people…,” Mr Ayariga said in an interview on 3FM.

“Because they have no jobs and are looking for avenues… I will cancel betting and make it illegal. Why do you bet? What do you mean by betting? When I need young people like them to sit on computers and design things and build the country where we have the highest technology in the world, you are sitting down doing betting”.

The recent introduction of a 10 per cent withholding tax on betting, games, and lottery winnings by the government has sparked widespread public outcry.

Implemented on August 15, 2023, this contentious decision has ignited fervent debates nationwide. Ghana’s youth, a significant demographic engaged in sports betting for both leisure and potential income, have expressed notable disapproval.

While precise figures on Ghana’s betting population are unavailable, there has been a surge in the number of licensed betting companies operating within the country.

At present, Ghana boasts 35 licensed betting companies, along with 26 casinos and eight establishments holding route licenses.

Politicians against betting

Mr. Ayariga joins other political figures, including Majority Leader in Ghana’s Parliament, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu and New Patriotic Party Presidential hopeful Kennedy Agyapong, in criticizing betting for promoting indolence.

Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has voiced concerns about the proliferation of betting companies and its potential ramifications, particularly among the nation’s youth. He posits that the rise of such establishments may inadvertently nurture a culture of complacency and idleness among the younger generation.

Similarly, Mr. Agyapong contends that “betting does not augur well for one’s future prospects,” advocating for punitive measures to dissuade young individuals from investing their time in gaming activities. He emphasizes the transient nature of earnings from betting, urging caution in such pursuits.

Betting companies in Ghana have since 2019 paid an estimated million to the government in various forms including taxes and licencing fees, according to Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) data.