Are Offshore Casinos Competing for a Share of the Nigerian Gambling Market?

Around 185 million people live in Nigeria, making it the seventh most populous country in the world. Within this population, gambling has become more popular since certain forms were legalised in the late 1990s as a result of Chapter 22, section 236 of the Criminal Code Act.

Today, the most popular forms of gambling in the country include sports betting and the lottery. Certain other forms of gambling are not legal, including roulette, card games that do not involve skill, and dice games. When it comes to online gambling, many of the 109.2 million Internet users in the country enjoy the activity. A large number of people play online casino games, although the legal position of these games is a grey area. Online casinos do not operate in Nigeria, but there is no specific law against people using offshore casinos. Let’s take a look at this matter in more detail.

Is playing at offshore casinos legal in Nigeria?

While gambling like the lottery and sports betting (including online betting) is legal in Nigeria, there is no regulation regarding the use of offshore casinos to play slots and table games. This situation means that many people choose to register and play at casinos that are licensed in other countries.

Recently, the Nigerian Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC) and the Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) in the country have started work to restrict unregulated gambling. However, so far, the appetite for online casino games in Nigeria remains strong. As there are no operators within Nigeria, this leaves the way open for offshore providers to benefit leading to money being taken away from the Nigerian gambling market.

How competition from offshore casinos affects the Nigerian gambling market

Nigeria’s GDP is the highest in Africa, at $441.5 billion, in 2021. Even though the finances of the country are more positive than many of its neighbours, further growth is always welcome. If the gambling that takes place at offshore casinos was transferred to Nigerian owned enterprises, the resulting financial returns would benefit the economy.

However, there are a couple of caveats to this. Firstly, there is no regulated online casino landscape in Nigeria, so activity on online casino games cannot be transferred directly. Secondly, even when regulation and licensing is in place in a country, people can still choose to play at offshore sites. For example, in the United Kingdom (UK), casino sites that are licensed by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) have GAMSTOP in place. GAMSTOP is an organisation that allows people to self-exclude from gambling activity across all licensed online casinos in the UK. Some people prefer to play at casinos that are not on GAMSTOP which do not have a UK license. These casinos operate offshore, and money goes to them rather than the UK gambling market.

In conclusion, there is certainly an appetite for online gambling in Nigeria. You only need to know that there are more than 40 sports betting sites in the country to see this is the case. The lack of regulated online casinos in Nigeria, means that the country is missing out on the potential financial benefits this industry sector could bring, and Nigerian players are spending money at offshore casinos, thereby diverting money from the Nigerian gambling market.

If online casinos were regulated and licensed in Nigeria, there should be significant gains for the gambling industry in the country. However, as can be seen from the example of the UK, it’s possible some people would still choose to use offshore online casino providers even if licensed Nigerian casinos existed.


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