Why Does Online Sports Betting Divide Opinions in Nigeria?

Today, Nigeria has one of the biggest online sports betting markets in Africa and the potential for further growth is almost limitless.

Along with South Africa and Kenya, Nigeria is one of the top three choice destinations for online betting companies and other related gambling activities for investors.
As of today, there are over 40 online betting sites operating in Nigeria, with the local regulatory authorities projecting that more investors will get operational licenses in the coming months.

Less than a decade ago, not much was known about online sports betting in Nigeria. Nevertheless, what was once considered a vice has now become an ubiquitous pastime. But how did the West African country become a household name in the world of sports betting?

What changed? How did a venture previously considered unacceptable in a somewhat conservative country grow like wildfire with the warm embrace of the locals?

The Arguments for Sports Betting

Quite a number of factors have been postulated as possible reasons for the geometric growth of online sports betting in Nigeria and chief of these reasons is economic. The country is currently going through an unprecedented economic downturn, resulting in increased impoverishment and a high rate of unemployment. Nigerians, especially the teeming youth population are now turning to other means for sustenance or a stop gap measure at least to better their lot.

Now, most people view online sports betting as a possible escape route from the shackles of poverty. With the prospects of a financial windfall via sports betting, more Nigerians are now open to the idea of staking a token for the possibility of winning millions of Naira in return.

The betting sites themselves are becoming even more aggressive with their marketing drive. They spend millions of Naira in creating a top of the mind awareness for their brands. This is hardly surprising given the competition in the industry.

The adverts are ubiquitous!

The Television, Radio, online and offline spaces are being utilized to promote their products. Asides from the conventional advertisement, the betting sites offer various promotional offers like cash back, bet and win offers, free bets and other different kinds of betting bonuses to win over and retain customers.

Another reason put forward for the growth of online gambling is internet penetration and mobile phone technology. Due to the advancement of mobile technology and internet penetration in Nigeria, there has been a surge in online betting. Nowadays, it is just a matter of whipping out a mobile device connected to the internet to bet on sporting events without having to expend energy before placing a wager.

The Financial technology sector in Nigeria has also witnessed tremendous growth. Many mobile payment platforms perfect for payment into online betting sites are now available. With the payment gateways, bettors can fund their betting accounts, the bookmakers make money and the Tech companies get share of the largesse.

The government is not also left out of the loop. The betting companies pay a staggering amount in taxes and this raises the revenue base to support the country’s struggling economy. In fact, the sports betting industry is estimated to be able to generate over $4 billion in revenue annually.

Besides the National Lottery Regulatory Commission, who are the central regulatory agency, many state governments have now set up agencies of their own to regulate and tax betting companies within their jurisdiction.

The Arguments against sports betting

Despite the growing popularity of online sports betting in Nigeria, there are still dissenting voices.
They argue that sports betting could be laying the foundation for a groundswell of social ills in the coming years.
Some are also of the opinion that the regulatory agencies are not doing enough to put an eye on the activities of the bookmaker to protect the public. Others have also bemoaned the growing trend of underage betting and the danger it portends for the future of the country.

Looking at the situation critically, the arguments from both sides of the divide are valid. But there is no gainsaying that the activities of sport betting companies should be closely monitored to foster economic growth of the country and a healthy gaming habit for bettors.

Source: owngoalnigeria.com

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