GETABALEW SEIFE is beginning to feel suspicious. Four times a week he saunters into the same bar in downtown Addis Ababa and puts down a bet. He often punts on Manchester United, his favourite football club.
But he almost always loses. “I think Manchester United is somehow supporting the betting companies,” he says. Still, he returns. “I’m playing just to get my money back.”
Like Getabalew, Ethiopia has caught gambling fever. Sports betting shops are springing up across the country. “People have gone crazy,” he says. His friend had to sell his car last year after a run of bad luck.
Others, though, are making out just fine. “It’s a cash cow,” says Sophonias Thilahun of Bet251, which plans to open 100 betting shops in Addis Ababa over the next six months. It may soon compete with 18 other companies, most of which were granted licences in the past year.