In Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, many young people spend their days in lottery houses in search of an easy win through betting. They take advantage of the blossoming of betting agencies and mobile payment to try their luck.
With an investment of less than one hundred CFA francs or more, these young people hope to earn a living through gambling. This practice, which raises ethical questions about the margin of easy gain, is likely to take on a different aspect in this city where many young people have no jobs. Report!
It is 10 o’clock in Kinshasa, the political capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. As usual, the sun is not depriving the people of Kinshasa of its rays. Obviously, it is an ordinary morning in this city where the heat dictates its law. In Burumbu, a township located in the northern part of the city, traffic jams, hawking and young people gathering on the avenue du rail, considered as one of the hot spots of this township.
Winning a lot with less investment
Winner, Loto, Betcoin… Betting agencies flood this commune and young people take pleasure in gambling. Parfait, 17 years old, says that he « comes every morning » to try his luck. This young man met in front of a betting house does not hide his passion for these games: « Sometimes I win a lot with less investment. Recently, I invested 2000 FC for three games (565 FCFA) and I won 25 000 FC (7062.67 FCFA). He explains that the money he won in this lotto game allowed him to « ensure his weekend atmosphere », he says in Lingala, the language spoken in this town.
A few metres away from this agency, there is a slightly larger house where young and old alike are analysing the DRC’s elimination from the African Cup of Nations and looking at other posters of the scheduled matches. Dressed in t-shirts, slippers, panties and denim trousers, these young people have only one desire: « to earn more by investing little ».
Among them, David, a young man torn between despair and impatience. « Betting is an occupation for me. The twenty-something, with a degree of Bac+3, lives only on this game of chance: « I got my diploma in 2019. For lack of employment, I come to this agency every day in search of a gain ». For him, « this game of chance is a way of supporting unemployed young people ».
A little further on, at the Ngaba roundabout, in the commune bearing the same name, there are other betting agencies. Under umbrellas, young people from this suburb in the north of Kinshasa are also playing. A few metres from a makeshift restaurant frequented by motorcyclists (Wewa Ndlr), a young man can be seen with his head down on his phone. Very concentrated, the man with dreadloks browses websites dedicated to betting. « I use my mobile money account to try my luck. With a naïve smile, he hopes to make betting « his main occupation », as opposed to « his idleness ».
What are the consequences for easy money?
Like other large cities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kinshasa is not spared by the rural exodus. According to data from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), this city represents 34.2% of the entire population of the DRC, the majority of whom do not have access to decent employment.
While for some, gambling is an occupation for unemployed youth, others question the ethical consequences of this widespread phenomenon in the city. « The youth have a serious problem with self-regulation. The easy money can instil in them a spirit of levity that may hinder their future, » fears sociologist Alimasi Ayukani. For others, « gambling has destroyed many young people who believe more in easy gain than hard work. Some of them now engage in theft in order to find the necessary means for betting, » says 60-year-old Bokele.