Betting, Gambling & Zambian Youths

By Bernadette Deka Zulu
Founder: Shaping Futures


As a country, we are facing a critical challenge in addressing juvenile delinquency and the rise of betting-related issues among its youth leading to the proliferation of gambling activities in Zambia reaching unprecedented levels, with devastating consequences.

Patterns of Gambling Among Zambian Youths

Research by several scholars and groups shows that youths who gamble are at a higher risk of developing gambling addiction. This addiction can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. The allure of quick gains and the excitement associated with betting have drawn many young people into this world.

Consequences of Gambling

1.  Financial Difficulties: The dramatic increase in legal and illegal gambling establishments in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has led to adverse consequences, including the loss of household or personal money (e.g., school fees money) among Zambian youth.Many young gamblers find themselves trapped in a cycle of debt and financial instability.
2.  Strained Interpersonal Relationships: Gambling addiction strains relationships with family and friends. The pursuit of bets often takes precedence over social connections, leading to isolation and broken bonds.
3.  Psychological Distress: The constant highs and lows of gambling can take a toll on mental health. Anxiety, stress, and feelings of hopelessness are common among addicted gamblers.
4.  Crime: Desperation to recover losses may drive some youths to engage in criminal activities. Theft, fraud, and other illegal acts become tempting avenues to fund their gambling habits.

Addressing the Issue

To tackle gambling addiction among Zambian youths, we need a multifaceted approach:
1. Education and Awareness: Schools and communities should educate young people about the risks associated with gambling. Awareness campaigns can help dispel myths and promote responsible behavior.
2. Regulation: Stricter regulations on gambling establishments, advertising, and online platforms are essential. This includes age restrictions, responsible gambling guidelines, and penalties for non-compliance.
3. Support Services: Establishing counseling services and helplines specifically for gambling addiction can provide much-needed assistance to affected youths.

1.  Education and Awareness Programs:
•   Implement comprehensive educational programs in schools and communities. These programs should focus on life skills, values, and responsible behavior.
•   Raise awareness about the risks associated with betting, substance abuse, and criminal activities. Youth need to understand the consequences of their choices.
2.  Youth Empowerment and Skill Development:
•   Invest in vocational training, entrepreneurship, and job creation programs. By providing viable alternatives, the government can steer young people away from negative influences.
•   Encourage mentorship and guidance to help youths discover their potential and contribute positively to society.
3.  Regulation and Enforcement:
•   Strengthen regulations around betting and gambling establishments. This includes age restrictions, licensing requirements, and responsible gambling guidelines.
•   Enforce penalties for illegal gambling operations and underage participation.
4.  Community Engagement:
•   Involve community leaders, parents, and local organizations in preventive efforts. Community-based initiatives can address specific challenges faced by Zambian youth.
•   Promote community policing to prevent crime and identify at-risk individuals early.
5.  Mental Health Support:
•   Establish counseling services and helplines specifically for youth struggling with addiction or mental health issues.
•   Reduce stigma around seeking help for mental health concerns.
6.  Collaboration with Stakeholders:
•   Work closely with NGOs, religious institutions, and civil society organizations. These groups can play a vital role in prevention, rehabilitation, and support.
7.  Research and Data Collection:
•   Invest in research to understand the root causes of delinquency and addiction. Evidence-based policies are essential for effective interventions.
•   Collect data on youth demographics, risk factors, and trends to inform targeted strategies.


Betting and gambling have become a pressing public health concern in Zambia. By addressing the issue head-on, we can protect our youth from the harmful effects of addiction and create a safer environment for all. Addressing these challenges will require a holistic approach involving various sectors. We can today chose to prioritize youth well-being and investing in the future of Zambia. Securing a sustainable socioeconomic future can only materialize by creating a prosperous society.


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