In a recent interview on 3FM, Mr. Ayariga expressed strong criticism of betting, labeling it as a pursuit for those facing unemployment. He went as far as suggesting that he would make betting illegal, highlighting the need for young people to engage in activities like technology and nation-building to lead the country to the forefront of technology worldwide.
The introduction of a 10 percent withholding tax on betting, games, and lottery winnings by the government on August 15, 2023, has sparked significant public outcry and ignited nationwide debates. Ghana’s youth, who form a substantial portion of the sports betting community, have notably voiced their disapproval.
Though precise statistics on Ghana’s betting population are lacking, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of licensed betting companies operating within the country. Currently, Ghana hosts 35 licensed betting companies, along with 26 casinos and eight establishments with route licenses.
Mr. Ayariga is not alone in his criticism of betting. Other political figures, such as Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu and New Patriotic Party Presidential hopeful Kennedy Agyapong, have also expressed concerns. They argue that the proliferation of betting companies, especially among the youth, might inadvertently cultivate a culture of idleness and complacency. They suggest that betting does not bode well for one’s future prospects and call for measures to discourage young individuals from investing their time in gaming activities.
According to data from the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), betting companies in Ghana have contributed a substantial sum to the government since 2019 through various forms of taxation and licensing fees. The implementation of the withholding tax has triggered intense debates across the nation regarding the role of betting in the lives of Ghana’s youth and its societal impact.