The philosophy of the Nigerian online bettor

Alexa’s December 18, 2019 ranking revealed the popularity of betting websites in Nigeria with, in 3rd position, leading other betting and odds-related sites in the list of top 50 sites.

A quick look at Alexa’s top sites ranking for January 29, 2020, reveals that some sites dropped out of the top 50. Nevertheless, and moved up the rankings 1 and 7 places, respectively, to occupy the 2nd and 33rd positions.

It goes without saying that online sports betting is popular in Nigeria, particularly among the youth.

In a bid to find out what goes on in a bettor’s mind, Techpoint spoke to Leonard (not real name) who started betting actively at a time he couldn’t readily recall but guessed to be around 2013/2014.

“The perception I had was that those who did it were people who didn’t have much money, young guys who were trying to make quick money to make ends meet, and handle emergencies,” – Leonard recalls.

Though he had prior knowledge of betting as an activity, his interest wasn’t piqued. However, his perception soon proved to be spot on, as he found himself strapped for cash and, having friends who were actively betting, it was only a matter of time before he asked the ‘initiating’ questions.

“I didn’t have a job and was broke. Of course, as a young man, I needed to have some money to meet my needs. So I asked my friends to teach me. It took me time to learn the ropes — stakes, odds, forecasting, etc.”

And so the journey began

Having once won ₦30,000 ($82.64) — his highest winnings to date — by placing a bet with ₦1,000 ($2.75), and hearing of larger bets, Leonard’s perception changed.

“There are different categories of players. Some play to pay off debts, some to hang out with friends, and some others to make millions — they see it as a business.”

Leonard recalls that after he entered the betting space, news sometimes made the rounds of well-to-do individuals who placed bets with as much as ₦500,000 ($1,377.27), some even going as high as ₦1 million ($2754.54).

Hitting the pause button

An acclaimed lover of statistics, Leonard says the uncertainty that comes with betting causes him to take periodic breaks when he sees himself going on an extended losing streak, as he understands that betting is probability-based.

Shirley (not real name) is a retired bettor. Her inability to control the outcomes of the events she placed bets on prompted her withdrawal from the betting scene.

Some might put Shirley’s ‘retirement’ down to determination while others might say she was lucky to leave before addiction set in.

Addiction or hobby?

Quite unlike Shirley, Greg (not real name) has neither been determined nor lucky enough to stop betting even though he acknowledges the person who introduced him was a bad influence.

“It was the result of a friend’s bad influence. I was very broke at the time but luckily I won ₦5,000 ($13.77) with ₦100 ($0.28). So I got hooked.”

In pidgin English, Sunday (not real name), a small-scale photographer around the Anthony Village area of Lagos state, made a statement that translates to,

“Betting calls out to you like a cute baby batting an eyelid.”

For Leonard, this seeming allure is not enough to justify being addicted to betting. He sees no need to borrow money to place bets as some do.

“The bad part of betting is addiction. Some people even borrow money to place bets. When you’re addicted, betting becomes your preoccupation, it becomes all you think about. For me, it is a hobby and my winnings go as easily as they come.”

Tweeter, @TheInfamous__, in responding to his claim to have lost over ₦2 million within a week to sports betting, tweeted,

“Betting( gambling) is fun for me. It’s just an addiction. I’m not using the money to feed my family.”

A means to an end?

Interestingly, Leonard says he will carry on betting even if all his financial obligations are met and he has funds set aside for contingencies. He puts this down to his passion for the sport he places bets on.

Further investigation via a Twitter poll revealed 36% of the 132 respondents, when asked for their thoughts on sports betting, claimed it is just a means to an end, 30% said it is an addiction, 23% see it as a hobby, while 11% had other thoughts about it.

The jury is still out on whether betting is an addiction, a hobby, or a means to an end. However, regardless of which side of the divide you find yourself, mobile phone and Internet penetration projections will only make betting easier going forward.

What are your thoughts on online betting? Do share.


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