Do Nigeria’s Gambling Laws benefit the country?

When it comes to gambling in Nigeria, the law is clear. Sports betting, land-based casinos and the lottery are all legal, whereas roulette, dice games and non-skilled card games are not. When it comes to online gambling, however, things get a little bit greyer. The law doesn’t say it’s legal, nor does it say that it’s illegal.

Over the last few years, the gaming landscape in Nigeria has been changing. According to a 2016 report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, gaming has been helping the economy to rebound from recession. The industry, sports betting in particular, has been witnessing the entry of foreign businesses into the market and although Nigerians still like to wander into a betting shop to place their bets, Nigeria is displaying a taste for sports betting online.

Gambling and the UK

Way across the waters over in the UK, the attitude towards gambling is much more liberal. Betting shops became legal in Britain in 1960 and citizens have been able to bet on all sorts of events, from horse races, football matches and other contests, through to the results of political elections and more; play bingo in halls and gamble in land-based casinos.

The legislation around gambling in the country received an update in the form of the Gambling Act 2005, in which the definition of “gambling” distinguishes between activities that need to be licensed and activities which don’t. It falls to the Gambling Commission to regulate gambling in the country.

The regulations have resulted in a saturated market in the UK, meaning operators have to be special to stand out from the crowd. 888 casino, an award-winning operator, have interesting promotions to keep players coming back for more, if a player logs in on the first day of the month, they could be lucky enough to have won a bonus. On the live roulette table, a player can win an £8 bonus if the winning number is 8, little branded twists like this endear their online casino to the players.

Industry stats and the economy

Each year, the commission publishes statistics in May and September, reporting on the state of the industry in the UK. According to the commission, the gambling industry generated a total gross gambling yield (GGY) of £14.3 billion between October 2018 and September 2019.

The industry plays a considerable role in the economy and provides employment for 98,174 people, although this number suggests employment in the industry is declining slightly, compared to the stats released in May 2019. The presence of casinos is good for local business because not only do people come to the casinos themselves, but they also spend at businesses in the area around the casino, boosting their sales and the local economy.

In terms of taxation, the UK government is smart enough not to tax people on their winnings from casinos. Instead, they tax the casinos themselves, which injects a significant amount of cash into the country’s coffers. Taxing players on their earnings would be an own goal because it might then scare away the customers from the casinos and deprive the Government of revenue.

The stats from the Gambling Commission also reflect that online gambling is growing bigger than gambling at brick-and-mortar establishments. In the latest stats, the total number of gambling establishments and the total number of betting shops in the UK has decreased by 9.6 and 12.1% respectively. Meanwhile, total GGY from remote casino activities was almost triple that of land-based casinos at £3.2 billion versus £1.1 billion.

The secrets to success in the industry

Just how does an online casino become so successful, however, when there’s so much competition out there? Not only are they competing against the physical establishments (although in some cases, they’re an extension of the existing casino), but also against a multitude of online casinos.

The key is to stand out from the crowd and make players feel valued. There are different promotions which can be used to attract new players and retain existing ones, casinos often deposit a bonus in the account of players when they make their first deposit.

Could Nigeria benefit more from better gambling legislation?

Nigeria is deemed to have the second largest overall gambling market in Africa (South Africa are leading on that front). That presents a lot of opportunities for this country that has already demonstrated an appetite for sports betting, which experts have attributed partly to the Nigerians’ passion for football especially and the ease with which it’s possible to part with cash when it comes to something you love.

As the UK has illustrated, the relationship between gambling operators, the people and the Government is harmonious when it comes to gambling laws. The authorities’ liberal attitude and the simple system of taxation which focuses on the operators rather than the players enables things to run smoothly. If Nigeria’s legislators could adopt a similarly liberal attitude towards online gambling, the governmental coffers could definitely fatten up and benefit the country. Right now, it’s missing out.

The attitude of many Nigerians towards gambling is changing. Like in the UK, they see gambling as a leisure activity. This is a break from the past in which people viewed gambling as anti-social and the Church would warn them against the quest for quick gains. The Nigerian government has legalised several different forms of gambling, so those attitudes are starting to fade. Maybe, however, there’s still a hint of them and bringing in clear legislation on online gambling may be a question of attitudes above all else.


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