STREAMWOOD, IL—The game floor at Awana is about to get a lot more interesting. In an effort to encourage more parental participation, leaders at the Christian kids club have decided to allow gambling on the outcome of the students’ games and races.
Instead of just passively watching kids hand batons to each other and throw bean bags back and forth, parents and leaders will now be seen screaming for their chosen kid to win so they can cash out in a big payday. Gamblers can place bets in person or via Awana's upcoming SparksBet online app, which is set to turn Awana games into a billion-dollar industry.
“It’s something we’ve considered in the past,” said Awana CEO Valerie Bell. “Sports betting is a huge industry and one that generates a ton of revenue. So we figured we’d get in on the action, and get moms and dads involved at the same time.”
The organization, primarily known for its Scripture memory curriculum, will take a 10% cut from the winnings to support its missionaries around the world. Awana team leaders will serve as oddsmakers and determine payouts based on each team's past performance.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Awana mom Elisa Lewis. “It just makes you cheer that much louder for your kid when you’ve got twenty bucks riding on it.”
The approved wagering program is set to begin next month.