Ilot NG: sports betting and the economic impact

Sports betting is experiencing a massive flow in Nigeria with an estimated 60 million Nigerians actively involved in the sports betting game. Over 50 betting sites are currently operating in Nigeria and all these bookmakers have a huge impact on the economy.

Nigeria has become the second largest online gambling market in Africa, behind South Africa, with a Gross Gaming Revenue of $58 million in 2018, according to a report by top accounting and auditing firm, PwC. The report projects that the GGR will rise by 16% over a five-year period. Nigeria has over 200 million people, supplying the population to feed the betting companies. Nigerians are passionate about their sports, especially football, and this has extended into their love for sports betting. The fact that they can make money from the sport they love so much is extremely appealing.The rise in sports betting has also been aided by improving technology, with many Nigerians now having access to mobile phones and affordable internet. Unfortunately the unemployment rate in the country remains high, which has also contributed greatly to the rise in sports betting.

Betting companies in Nigeria have found a gold mine and are growing really fast. With such mind blowing numbers going around, it is hardly surprising that the Nigerian government is looking to tighten tax laws and get more from the revenue generated by betting companies. Till now, the government has not really taken advantage of betting companies because of how fast they are growing.

Sports betting in Nigeria is not growing alone, but rather moving along with other industries like the Banking, Information Technology and Telecommunications industries. The inter-relationship between these sectors can best be described as symbiotic, with each benefiting from the other.

It is true that sports betting has been aided by improving banking and payment systems; and technological advancement (more mobile phones, better internet), but betting has also given a lot in return. Bookmakers now have partnerships with banks, payment gateways and telecommunications industries, thereby, leading to a significant increase in the activities in these sectors, and consequently boosting revenue.

Imagine being charged N50 for every deposit you make via paystack or internet banking; or being deducted N30 every time you fund your account via the mobile USSD service. Now think about the millions of deposits made into betting accounts per day. That is some serious money we are talking about. According to Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), there were 29 million web payments, worth N132 billion as far back as 2017.

As sports’ betting continues to grow at a fast rate, so will its effect on the economy. Hopefully the government and the companies can reach a mutually beneficial resolution on taxation. The government needs some of that money, but they must also be mindful not to create laws that will significantly hamper the growth of the companies that are operating legally in the country.

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