Criminal Code Act and Gambling Legality in Nigeria

As gambling grows ever more popular in Nigeria, gamblers must understand the laws that govern the industry. Online sports betting has particularly increased the demand for gambling products.

Whether you prefer casinos or sports, there’s a Nigerian operator that provides it. However, does the gambling law allow it? The legality of gambling, especially online, is a tad ambiguous. For this reason, gamblers must understand the situation better. This guide looks at the provisions of the Criminal Code Act and other regulations.

Is Gambling Illegal in Nigeria?

Most forms of gambling are illegal in the country, according to Chapter 22 of the Criminal Code Act. The law only legalises skill-based card games, the national lottery and backgammon. Additionally, it allows the operation of state-run racing totes and betting pools.

Nigerian Gambling Regulation and Legislation

Gambling activities have increased significantly in the last decade or so. Although the Criminal Code Act largely governed gambling legality, it became necessary to establish new laws and revise others to accommodate the situation. The 2005 National Lottery Act and the 2004 Lagos State Lottery Law are such laws. Currently, the country has regulatory bodies to licence operators that provide various gambling products in the country.

Online Gambling Taxes

One reason the government permits certain gambling activities is to benefit from the taxes that the industry generates. Remote gambling falls under the same taxation system as land-based operations. Consequently, gambling platforms incur a 20% tax on gross revenue at the national level. States also have their requirements. Lagos, for example, demands 2.5%. The state tax collector, FIRS, also mandated a 5% value-added tax. However, this is awaiting implementation.

The Two Governing Laws for Gambling in Nigeria

Nigerian gamblers have two main federal acts with provisions for the legality of gambling activities.

Criminal Code Act

The Nigerian Criminal Procedure Code references gambling in Section 236, Chapter 22. It defines which gambling practices are legal or not. Lotteries, betting pools and land casinos are the legal gambling activities according to the Criminal Code Act. It goes on to define the different gambling activities permitted under the law. Any person caught operating illegal gambling practices can get a fine of 1000 NGN and/or a two-year prison term.

Gaming Prohibition Act

The Gaming Machines Act of 1977 criminalises the use of gaming machines when gambling in Nigeria. A gaming machine is any gaming device that uses tokens or mechanical coins whose sole purpose is to encourage people to gamble with the hope of winning monetary rewards. The penalty for using gaming machines is a one-year prison term without the option of parole.

Are Betting Sites in Nigeria Legal?

Neither the Criminal Code Act nor any other law has clear cut rules about gambling on the web. Nonetheless, the following sections shed some light.

Online Casinos

Because no law explicitly prohibits internet casino gambling, Nigerian players can indulge in all sorts of games. You can spin and win real money on a variety of slots. Casinos also offer a wide selection of table games, poker, scratch cards and lotteries. Before you start gambling, though ensure that an offshore casino is regulated by a recognized body.


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