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The new high stakes game in Zimbabwe

Tuesday, February 24, 2015 - 01:23

It's an unfortunate sign of the times in Zimbabwe as thousands of unemployed cram into betting houses in a desperate bid to make ends meet. The country's economy shrank 45 percent in the decade to 2009 - and as Katie Gregory reports, a shocking majority are still out of work and willing to take a punt with their limited fortunes.

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They can't find work - so for these Zimbabweans - gambling is the next best bet. With unemployment spiralling out of control at a massive 80 percent - the only way to ensure there'll be food on the table is a win at the bookies. (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNNAMED PUNTER SAYING: "I am just trying my luck, I can come with 5 bucks (US dollars) and go home with 70 or 80 (US) dollars. Basically you know the family needs to feed, they want something on the table." Taking their chance on football games and horses - hundreds of men from all different ages - gather at this betting house in Harare. The decade to 2009 saw Zimbabwe's economy shrink by 45 percent. It's stabilised a little since then but interest in sports betting continues to gain popularity. Local economist John Robertson says it's a measure of desperation. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JOHN ROBERTSON, ECONOMIST, SAYING: "I think most of them would far rather have a steady job, take home a steady income and be assured of another pay cheque at the end of the month and the certainty of being able to feed the family, pay the rent and pay school fees." As college graduates sell their wares alongside hawkers on the street - it's no wonder people here are resorting to a punt. Growth in Zimbabwe's economy is expected to pick up slightly this year - but that won't be enough to provide jobs for all these men - taking a desperate risk with fortunes.

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The new high stakes game in Zimbabwe

Tuesday, February 24, 2015 - 01:23