The above front-page headline in the normally reliable Daily Monitor caught my eye last week. Not adverse to the odd flutter myself it seemed like the punters' dream had come true - there was actually a bookmaker in existence that was losing money. Several betting companies have recently opened in Uganda, eager to tap in to the fanaticism for the English Premiership by getting fans to back their teams with hard cash. According to the Monitor Ugandans had been so successful that they were paying for weddings and other such large expenditures with their winnings. It could, the paper opined, "make the difference between wealth and poverty". And they weren't talking about people going broke.
This had me wondering. Had these bookmakers been setting incorrect odds? Were the cashiers getting their sums wrong? Or were Ugandans simply genius gamblers with a penchant for lengthy accumulators that don't fall down due to some freak result in the Scottish Third Division?
The answer, of course, is 'none of the above'. Below the banner headline, and paragraphs of suspicious anecdotes about one particular company (Simba Casino), was the admission that in the newspaper's research they found that "few will admit that they threw away a month's salary on an unlucky weekend of bets". No shock there but a greater concern was why this story was published in the first place and who decided to take such a positive slant on the industry? The whole thing stinks of an elaborate product placement perpetuating the myth that bookies love to push about everyone being a winner. The frontpage was at best ill-advised and at worst brings into question the integrity of the paper.