Why gambling is going from strength to strength in Nigeria
While gambling can still be viewed negatively by many, there are arguments that a well-regulated gambling industry can be hugely beneficial to a country. Casinos, gambling parlours and online sites exist, and if they are not regulated, there is no way of ensuring that they are operating fairly. People who are determined to gamble are going to find their way into these unlicensed places where their money is unsafe, and that can often cause more of a problem than the gambling itself. But can regulating gambling opportunities actually benefit the economy?
Gambling in Nigeria
Online gambling and betting services are reaching more people.
Nigeria is a leading economic nation in Africa, and a large part of that comes from its relationship with gambling, and sports betting in particular. After South Africa, Nigeria has the second largest sports betting market across the continent.
This is a nation that is passionate about sport, especially football. Nigerians see placing a bet on their team as another way of supporting them and putting their money where their mouth is. Analysis has shown that Nigerians are spending millions of naira each day on sporting wagers, with 53% of gamblers claiming to place daily bets. With figures like that, it’s easy to see why Nigeria’s gambling industry is growing so fast.
But the laws in Nigeria have not yet caught up with the reality of the gambling situation in the country, and they can be a bit confusing at first. Technically, gambling is both legal and illegal – it depends on what game you want to play and how you want to play it. Currently only sports betting, lotteries, and casino games are legal, but there are further caveats on these too.
There are only 9 licensed casinos in Nigeria, most of them in Lagos. Skill-based games like poker and blackjack are legal, while luck-based games like roulette a dice games are not. But many Nigerian players can access these at offshore online casinos as there is no specific legislation which covers the use of these sites.
A Good Role Model
Casinos in the UK are heavily regulated.
As internet usage in Nigeria continues to grow, the government should start to think about how it is going to manage the growing use of online casinos. One country which has set a model example on regulating online sites is the United Kingdom. With a population much smaller than Nigeria, the UK’s gambling sector is third in the world, behind only the USA and China, and 40% of its revenue comes from the online market. It is also the most heavily regulated market, but as you can see from the figures, this hasn’t deterred online casino providers.
Online casinos wishing to operate in the UK need to be licensed by a central authority – the UK Gambling Commission. To be granted a license, the casinos need to agree to follow their rules on fair play, customer care, and fees and taxes. Online operators pay taxes of 20% to the UK government, ensuring that a portion of their profits remain in the local economy.
As part of the licensing regulations, online casinos are regularly audited for fairness to ensure that none of their games are fixed – something which is all too easy for unregulated online casino providers to do if they want to scam money out of their players.
This system also works well for the UK players who know that they can access only the best services. Some providers like this splendid UK online casino offer free memberships and grants access to hundreds of top-quality casino games and online slots, with high, low and medium stakes all available to choose from. This is just one reason why it is so important for Nigeria to start ensuring that any online casinos offering services to Nigerian players are properly regulated.
Lagos has begun licensing sports betting sites, so football fans can place bets legally.
As well as ensuring that players have trusted, high-quality providers to play at, a legal gambling industry provides thousands of employment opportunities. From management and hospitality staff to security professionals and IT support, these companies need a well-trained army of employees to function.
Because illegal and offshore casinos aren’t licensed or regulated, they don’t pay taxes to the government. This means a significant amount of money that should be funnelled back into the economy is being lost. When companies pay taxes on their profits, the money is then used by the government to fund public services like education, public spaces and transport. Without these funds, the local communities will suffer.
The Nigerian gambling industry is still in its infancy but is growing at a phenomenal rate. This is because supply is finally starting to catch up with demand. Nigerians love betting and gambling, but a lack of facilities and online options has meant that many have only been able to do so informally or illegally. With internet usage nearing 50%, and PC and mobile phone prices dropping, more and more Nigerians are able to access online betting and gambling services.
But because gambling laws haven’t been reviewed in the last 20 years, online providers have been able to exploit loopholes, which means their customers might not always get a fair service, as well as helping them to avoid any government taxes. For the country to fully benefit from its burgeoning economy, the laws will need to be reviewed.