A new sports gambling epidemic is holding eSwatini youth and adults alike by the scruff of the neck and it is not a pretty sight.

Faced with rising unemployment and and deepening level of poverty, eSwatini youth are opting for sports gambling as a temporary reprieve to the scourge of poverty. However, lurking behind the lure of easy cash is the problem of addiction and depression caused by excessive gambling.

Like the urban myth of a pot filled with pleasantly tepid water and gradually heated, the frog remains in the water until it boils to death. This is true of gambling addiction too; it attacks slowly until you are deep in the abyss of shame and self-destruction.

Gambling is legal and controlled in the country. The Bookmakers’ and Taxation Act of 1970 makes land-based wagering lawful and is regulated. A license is available for land-based betting establishments. In 2021 the first of its kind online game betting company was launched trading as MulaSport Company. The company was launched as eSwatini’s first-ever premier online sports betting platform and was licensed by the Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affairs.

MulaSport betting license was issued in terms of section 3 of the Licensing of Bookmakers and Taxation Act (1970). The company's offices are located in Manzini and they started operating by selling themselves as offering Swazis above the age of 18 a platform to bet from as little as E10 in order to stand a chance to win up to E5 000.

Two years later, the company is making a killing as more Swazis have taken gambling as an easy escape out of poverty. The average age for a sports betting gambler in eSwatini is 27 years. Speaking to the Sports Desk of News on Africa Eswatini Edition, Desiree Scott, MulaSports Social Media and Marketing Manager, said the company is impressed with the number of people participating on this platform.

We are currently on 4 166 users and hoping for 10 000 by the end of the first quarter which is in April,” Scott was quoted saying. She added that more and more people were learning about MulaSport and the company might be able to increase the jackpot.