Many stakeholders in the sports and entertainment industries have signed contracts with Nigerian betting companies. These companies have chosen to sponsor various games, events, and reality television shows to attract more customers.
Over the weekend, Ebiowei (real name withheld) was feeling upbeat and optimistic, so he decided to place a bet based on predictions from a prominent Twitter user. He booked the game by entering the bet codes he had been given into a betting website. Although it was his last cash, a total of N4500, in the fast-paced world of gambling, all it takes is a miracle to change one’s life and pull one out of poverty. He hoped to withdraw around N800,000 shortly. Bowie was forced to lose all of his money because the games did not go as planned. This scenario is all too familiar to the over 60 million Nigerians who participate in sports betting.
The sector has grown dramatically over its history, from traditional poll games like Baba Ijebu to modern betting shops equipped with computers and TV displays that broadcast live images of sporting events.
It is difficult to trace the origins of betting in Africa, but Ghana was the first country in the region to pass the Lotteries Betting Act, which regulated the sector, in the early 1960s. Following that, in 1973, the Gambling Machines Act was passed, followed later by the Casino Licensing Act. Each of these restrictions was designed to ensure that both players and operators benefited from increased safety and security measures. In South Africa, however, the government passed the South African Gambling Act in 1965, making all forms of gambling illegal.
However, the post-apartheid government legalized all forms of gambling and passed the National Gambling Act two years later. In Nigeria, the process of regulating businesses was slow to begin. Until 2005, the government did not create a National Lottery Commission to oversee the betting industry and ensure that the interests of players, stakeholders, and the general public were protected in an open and accountable manner.
Fans of European and local sports leagues have been the driving force behind the continent’s recent rapid expansion of sports betting. This growth has been fueled by fans’ desire to capitalize on the excitement of watching their teams compete. Given that hundreds of games are played each week in a variety of other sports, football fans expect to be rewarded for their devotion to the game.
I only compete in sports for the sake of entertainment because I enjoy it. Cynthia (real name) observed that it is difficult to find someone who enjoys sports but does not bet on them as a university undergraduate in 2014 after being influenced by friends who already did so. Her success, on the other hand, has been sporadic since she began gambling.
Akin Alabi founded Nairabet, Nigeria’s first online sports betting company, in 2009. Over 40 new betting organizations have emerged since then, each with its brand name and franchising model. Among the most successful companies in this industry are Bet9ja, KingsBet, MerryBet, and 1xBet. Akin Alabi, the current Chairman of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, proposed two measures in February 2022 to ensure that foreign betting companies operating in Nigeria pay taxes to the government. These bills would guarantee the government’s payment. Every day, over N2 billion is wagered on various sporting events in Nigeria. This figure grows over time to a mind-boggling N730 billion.
With rates of 33 and 35 percent, respectively, Nigeria and South Africa have the highest unemployment rates on the African continent. One of the most obvious parallels between the two countries is this. It is thus plausible to argue that the high rates of youth unemployment in both countries contributed to the high betting rates.
According to Dr. Richard Aborishade of Olabisi Onabanjo University in Ogun State, Nigeria, the industry is a significant contributor to the economy and not only assists thousands of Nigerians in overcoming poverty and economic inequality. It not only creates jobs but also helps thousands of Nigerians fight poverty and economic inequality. He went on to urge security officials to promote the industry to the extent permitted by law, rather than oppose its business operations.
“Betting is a legitimate form of money, and it’s preferable to doing ‘Gee,'” Ebiowei says. Bowie explains why people gamble in this way. Gee is an Internet slang term for fraudulent activity.
Broadband connectivity expansion, payment method simplification, population growth, and the availability of smartphones and other digital devices have all contributed to the increased popularity of online sports betting over traditional brick-and-mortar betting establishments.
Vinny, who will remain anonymous, is in his late twenties and has been gambling for over ten years. When codes were first introduced, he began with Bet9ja and Merrybet. Even though his typical bet is N200, he admitted to betting N100,000 in a single slip. In addition, he claims to have won over N500,000 on a betting slip. When a team suffers consecutive defeats, the players’ motivation to play fluctuates at random intervals. “In addition to the traditional method of earning money through a paid job, you can make money through betting. “As a gambler, most of the time it’s a win or lose situation, so I mostly play for fun,” he says. When making predictions, he now considers factors with the highest probability of success. He claims that he cashes out the vast majority of the time because he is not paying attention to the game. “Games I monitor are games I spend more money on, so it’s just for fun,” he explained. “No, just for kicks.”
Nigerian betting companies have formed relationships with many stakeholders in the sports and entertainment industries to expand their customer base. These collaborations have allowed the companies to sponsor a variety of sporting events, reality television shows, and video games. For example, following the successful formation of the two organizations’ partnership, Bet9ja collaborated with the Nigerian Professional Football League to become the league’s official sponsor.
Bet9ja has taken over as the official sponsor of Big Brother Naija, a Nigerian reality television show that is watched by an estimated 40 million people across Africa. This change went into effect in 2019.
The gaming and gambling industry contributes to Nigeria’s economy. One advantage of betting on the economy is that it may lead to the creation of new jobs. Almost every street in the country has a betting shop, and many of them hire young people to work as salespeople, assisting punters in booking games and collecting money. The majority of these establishments also function as viewing areas, attracting customers and encouraging them to develop an interest in betting over time.
Economists predict that online gaming revenue will grow in the coming years, benefiting the economy as a whole. This will result in the creation of new jobs, as well as the distribution of tax revenue to other sectors of the economy, such as education and public health.
According to PwC research published in 2018, Nigeria ranked second in Africa for online betting, with total gaming revenues of $58 million for the fiscal year under consideration. According to the report’s projections, the GGR will rise by 16% over the next five years. South Africa is the continent’s most popular sports betting destination, and the country’s overall gambling industry generates more than $2 billion in gross gaming revenue (GGR).
Gambling carries risks, such as the development of gambling addiction, the possibility of financial loss, and the proclivity for individuals under the legally permissible age of 18 to be persuaded to participate.
Michael (not his real name) revealed that he has been betting on sports since he was in high school. He used this to generate fast cash for a variety of expenses. Michael’s true identity has not been revealed. He began with his spare change, hoping to earn twice as much money in the future. I had no choice but to gamble when I was in a financial bind and couldn’t get the money I needed from my family. “Even if you don’t mind the money, what is N100?” he asks. “How much is N100 worth?” Michael’s wagering on games has steadily increased throughout his life. He admits that the highest wager placed so far is N5,000.
Chizzy, who will not be identified, has been a consistent gambler for the past seven years, wagering three to four times per week. He bets N500 on average. He is motivated to place bets by the prospect of striking it rich one of these days. “Well, Nigeria is difficult, and doing things properly will not result in “someone blowing, “He elaborated. “So, I’m just going to try my luck and hope that the next person I talk to can help me solve one or two problems,” he added. When asked how frequently he succeeds, he said, “once in a blue moon.”
It is difficult to completely condemn anyone who gambles in Nigeria due to the country’s dire economic situation. However, as many respondents acknowledged, betting cannot be regarded as a long-term method of wealth accumulation. Even though their winning days far outnumber their losing days, the majority of them gamble because they want to engage in legal activities that generate additional revenue. When I asked people what they thought about sports betting, the vast majority of them said that while they bet on sports the majority of the time, their lucky days were extremely rare.