The Nigerian economy has recently undergone a marked increase in its average annual growth of as much as 7%. This is due in no small part to the vibrant sports betting industry in the country which has the potential to become Africa’s biggest gambling market.

The laws around gambling in Nigeria are complicated, with some versions of betting legal and other prohibited. There is a need for legislation to be updated and regulations around this activity to be clear and specific. A case in point is that there aren’t actually fixed laws about online gambling other than the National Lottery Act of 2005. Theoretically, all the rules that pertain to land-based betting apply to the online arena as well. Lagos actually started granting distinct licenses for online operators in December 2019 and Nigerians have had access to internet-based casinos for many years now completely legally.

Positive Economic Growth

Due to an increase in the Nigerian population, more widespread access to the internet, and cheaper devices, online gambling is booming. The ripple effect of this expanding market means more money coming into the country via the new jobs becoming available and taxes levied on bookmakers’ products and services.

According to a 2018 PricewaterhouseCoopers report, Nigeria is the second-biggest online wagering market in Africa, posting gross gaming revenue of US$58 million in that year. South Africa is still in the first position, with GGR of roughly US$2 billion and internet penetration of 54%. 

Nigerians spend about US$5.5 million on sports betting, with the average stake valued at US$7 or US$8, according to analysts, making the annual turnover between US$1.9 and US$2 billion. PwC predicts that Nigerian GGR is set to swell by as much as 16% until 2023, after which it will just get bigger. 

Land-based and online operators alike are subject to a federal tax rate of 20% of all GGR in Nigeria. Lagos is an exception, however, charging a mere 2.5%. decides where the accumulated funds go. 

Job Creation

This industry creates employment opportunities the same as any other. The American Gaming Association reports that the 1 000+ casinos across 40 states in that country are responsible for 750 000+ jobs. Las Vegas employs some 400 000+ people in its various gambling venues, nightclubs, restaurants, and shopping outlets.

Macau is another great example of a region harnessing the positive power of the betting industry to inject cash into its own economy. With its 600 000+ population, roughly 10% are employed in some way by the gambling business.

The digital side of this sector is no different, either. Sites need customer support agents, designers, marketers, networkers, and programmers, to name just a few.

Unfortunately, Nigeria has yet to find a way to benefit from this sector. With just three brick-and-mortar casinos and a small number of bookmakers here, gaming employment remains an untapped potential for now.

Bettors Should Proceed with Care

By and large, Nigerians view betting on sports events and wagering on games of chance as a harmless hobby. A poll in 2017 revealed that 36% of adults in the country enjoy gambling and more than 50% do it on a daily basis.

As widespread as this activity is these days, there are negative consequences to betting as well. Responsible operators try to minimise these by encouraging responsible gaming, instituting age limits to their products and services, and keeping their customers informed as to the dangers associated with overspending. 

20 million+ Nigerians were unemployed as of 2020, and the percentage of youth looking for work was 14%. Studies have shown that younger people are interested in the extra income savvy betting can bring in. 

Estimates state that between 1% and 8% of Nigerian bettors may struggle with problem gambling and unfortunately, many go undiagnosed and without treatment. Awareness is key, with programmes like Gamblers’ Anonymous being available, and online bookmakers and casinos providing local contact information for helpful organisations as well as lists of tools and resources. 

The Future is Now

The Nigerian gambling industry is growing apace with the rest of the world and as many as 70% of the younger generation frequently enjoy betting and gambling. The average daily wager is about US$15, which is very reasonable, and there is an increasing amount of choice becoming available thanks to the internet. 

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