Gambling - and particularly sports betting - has taken off around the world. But wagering money or something of value on the outcome of an event is nothing new. The origins of popular modern casino games go back decades if not centuries.

Various people bet on horses. Some of them are employees, others are merchants... most of them are addicted. It runs in their blood. They take out loans to gamble. It's a need they have to fulfil.

Mohamed Albert

It's hard to quantify exactly what percentage of the gambling industry sports betting makes up - but it has become so popular that governments are reevaluating its legality.

In some countries, illegal betting dens are still active - but you can also bet on your phone on the number of corners in a football match, winning margins in cricket, home runs in baseball and the score in the Super Bowl.

This explosion has its roots in the horse industry - and the two characters in this film bet almost every day on televised French racing. Morocco has several well-known casinos, and sports betting is not uncommon.

Mohamed Albert is a retired security officer, now in his sixties, whose family has deserted him and who lives out his days in cafés indulging the obsession that has cost him everything. He also increases his risk by trying not just to pick winners but to forecast the first three horses home, what the French call Le Tiercé. He has sometimes won over $1,000, but that simply gives him the high that gets him betting again.

Then there's Abdallah, a peasant farmer with a passion for horses and who bought a filly to graze at home that he calls his most prized possession. Twice divorced, his third marriage is now in trouble, and his wife complains that he gambles all their money away.

All today's betting websites carry a health warning about gambling responsibly. This film is a salutary lesson in how a little recreational 'flutter' can spiral out of control and ultimately ruin lives.

Horses of misfortune

Source: Al Jazeera