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Betting: Dangerous pastime for unemployed Nigerian youths

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Betting, especially sports betting has become a trending issue among Nigerians, especially the unemployed youths, not just in major cities, but also in the hinterlands, as they see the trend as a new way of making ends meet.

Daily, these Nigerians who want to get rich quickly or “hammer” throng sports betting centres, which are located in the streets and even market places to wager their money in one form or the other, thinking that such move would pave the way for them to escape from poverty. The trend has become an addiction among some people who believe that it is the easiest means of earning money without stress.

According to a report from a study conducted by Dr. Darragh McGee of the University of Bath, the relentless involvement of betting companies in football has drawn an army of youths (boys and girls) into strongly associating their support for the game with betting, leading to dire consequences for many.

McGee noted that the explosion in marketing and sponsorship, combined with the ease of online betting via smartphones, has resulted in the ‘gamblification’ of watching football.

Investigations by The Guardian revealed that people who indulge in betting activities borrow as much as N20, 000 for their daily stakes. Some of them win, while some lose. As a two-way thing, when the prediction comes through and the individual who wagers his money wins, the company will have to pay. However, if he loses, the bet company smiles.

Today, the list of sports betting companies in Nigeria seems to be growing faster. And they come in different platforms and operational styles. Some of the betting platforms in the country include 1xbet, Naijabet, Nairabet, Betway, Bet9ja, Sportybet, Lionsbet, Merrybet, Surebet247, Betfarm, Betland, 1960bet, Betking, 9japredict, Lovingbet, Winnersgoldenbet, Bet365naija, Championsbet, Saharabet, Marsleisure, 360bet, Superiorbet, UBCbet, Nairastake, Betdey, R & S Bet and Naijagaming.

Others are Megabet, Bigmoneybet, Naija4win, Powerbet9ja, Collabobet, Yangabet, Ebonybet, Fortunebetng, Globalbet, Betfada, Megastarbet, Betabet2000, Rookiebet, Bonanzawin, Betbiga, Zenithbet, Kingdombet, Kwikbet, Doxxbet, Betpawa, Betfarm, Netbet, Emeraldbet, Accessbet, Blackbet, Hamabet, Robabet, Citybet and Wakabet.

Though risky, analysts affirmed that the reward that comes with sports betting helps to assuage the risks. So, from Lagos to Onitsha, Ibadan, Kano, Enugu, Maiduguri and other cities in the country, betting shops dot the streets and many Nigerians stake various sums of money daily in the hope to get something in return. It used to be affair for people between the ages of 18 and 45 but the trend seems to be taking a new dimension as school children, market women, housewives and law enforcement agents have joined the league. Findings showed that while school children are committing their ‘lunch money’ in the range of N100 as their wager, the adults are putting in their daily contributions, ajo, ranging from N500 to N5, 000 depending on the odd placed on teams.

‘It Has Drastically Reduced Crime Rate’
In a chat with The Guardian, Managing Director, ZenithBet, one of the licensed betting companies in the country, Tope Fagbuaro, noted that irrespective of what people think about sports betting, the companies are really empowering Nigeria, especially the youth, and in so doing helping to curb crime among them.

“The issue of unemployment cannot be over emphasised. Lots of youths are jobless and few of us decided that we want to be independent and create employment, which is key in the country.

“Betting has drastically reduced the crime rate. So, government needs to assist us in terms of finance, getting loan like that of forex. I will only urge the government to soft-pedal on the issue of forex. If we can get forex from the banks and reduce taxes, it will go a long way to boost the business.”

Dr. Adedeji Oyenuga, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Lagos State University (LASU), said betting is an addiction and not a means of livelihood. He noted that a person that wins a particular amount might end up losing the amount or much more if he or she becomes addicted to it.

“You are not addicted to it when you do it once and run away. Those that engage in it on a regular basis are addicted to it. Even the owners of the betting companies or platforms don’t bet because they know that it is a 50-50 chance. You know that we cannot have the head and the tail at the same time; you either have the head or the tail. Majority of those that are addicted to sport betting are those who follow football religiously,” he said.

Oyenuga admitted that the trend has helped to shift the attention of many youths from crimes such as robbery, shoplifting, burglary and pick pocketing, among others. He, however, disagreed that sports betting is an investment opportunity, stressing that it’s just a belief that “you can use a small amount of money to make a huge amount.”

According to him, betting is gambling. He, however, said there is a great difference between betting and the traditional gambling with dice on the street. He stated that betting is legitimate, as the government through a law recognises it as a business.

“Before now, we used to have popular pools, such as Face-to-face, Apollo and football matches from the UK, you predict and win. All of those that played it at the time were more of addicts; they tried to predict 52 matches but what we have today is bigger.

“Then you had to wait for a particular time of the game to see the result of the matches, but now we see the result of the game live as played across the continents,” Oyenuga explained.

With a growing population of over 160 million people, and youth unemployment estimated at 50 per cent, about 60 million youths seem to have channeled their energy into sports betting, placing bets on different matches played in European and other nations daily.

Investigations showed that sports betting companies have become the largest employer of youths in the country. In Lagos alone, betting outfits have taken a large proportion of the youths off the streets as they eke a living from the business.

If the analysis by an agent of 9japredict, a betting company, is anything to go by, sports betting outfits seem to enjoy more during the regular football seasons in Europe.

“We have more customers, lets say, about 400 people coming to our office to place bets on match days during football seasons. But the number reduces to about 120 to 150 at off-seasons,” the agent said.

He revealed that some betting company could generate up to N18million to N20million monthly and spend just about N5million to N7million to pay winners.

… Now A Thriving Business In Nigeria
By Tobi Awodipe
It is Monday morning and while many are struggling to get to their respective places of employment, dozens of young men are gathered in one of the thousands of betting shops scattered all over Lagos, huddled over television screens while simultaneously scanning their phones with a frown on their faces, hoping and praying for that ‘big break’.

Nobody holds more hope than a bettor, The Guardian learnt. Everyday, they place a bet, they hope today is their lucky day; today is the day they cart away millions of naira in winnings. For most, that day never comes but that doesn’t stem the hope or kills the addiction.

Statistics reveal that Nigerians spend an average of N308 billion on betting daily. Good or not, the betting industry is now one of the biggest in the country whilst thousands of youths have become addicted. In the old days, betting was predominantly amongst older men but with the birth of football bet, young and old alike are caught in the fray, even women and the underage are not exempt, as everyone is looking for free money.

Spending the day with a betting agent at his outlet in Isolo, Lagos, Benjamin (surname withheld) said he had been looking for a job for several years after leaving school with no luck.

“I graduated from the university five years ago and was unable to get a job and not from lack of trying. People were offering me factory work and while I am not looking down on it, I know it is not for me. One of my friends introduced me to Bet9ja and even though I was reluctant initially, this is what I want to do with my life.”

Speaking further, he revealed that online betting has given employment and succor to thousands of Nigerians, predicting that “many people will die if anything happens to these betting companies.”

Benjamin isn’t the only one that shares this opinion as several bettors spoken to share this opinion.

These days, there is at least one betting shop on every street in Nigeria, if not two. A couple of years ago, premier lotto was the king of the manor before online football betting sites emerged. Bettors explained to The Guardian that online betting differs from premier lotto in the sense that the latter deals with permutation of numbers, unlike football betting which deals with the prediction of outcome of matches.

“Since many youths already love football, it is now a matter of simply applying your knowledge of the game to earn money. It is very simple and you can become an expert in less than a week,” Benjamin said.

Pausing to attend to customers who thronged the shop, he went on to divulge the steps in becoming an operator. “All you have to do is go to the head office and signify interest. They ask where you want to open shop and you open an account with them which they fund. You’re paid your pension weekly but before funding your account, they come to the shop to inspect and take details.”

Revealing that it is a very lucrative business, he said he doesn’t bet personally but encourages others to, as it is a sure way of making money. When asked the ratio of wins versus losses, he smiled, saying enough people win but looking at his data, it was a ratio of 25:1 in favour of losses. He reassured that people were playing safe and hedging their bets is the reason there were so many losses. “There are so many ways to play and those uncommon risks bring big rewards. People are winning everyday, don’t mind those claiming that people don’t win.”

He said that the cheapest you can punt with is N150, adding that one could go up to any amount. “You need to stake more to win more. You cannot expect to win millions with N150,” he said.

If you think that when the football season takes a break, they also take a break, you would be wrong as baby takes over. Baby is virtual soccer that doesn’t depend on leagues and seasons and while the winnings might not be as huge as football betting, it enjoys a huge following. Other games that can be staked on include colour-colour, dog and horse race and dice, which you can play for as low as N50.

“Most people don’t like these ones because they are based strictly on luck and guessing. It is either hit or miss and while most people miss, if you win, you win big.”

Showing The Guardian how to play the colour-colour and the dog race, it was clear that these games are actually difficult to win. For football betting, there are over a hundred permutations available and while seated with Benjamin, Okey, a regular customer walked in. Staking almost N5,000, he said he was going to his shop and wanted to ‘relax’ a little before going. He had neither eaten nor sold anything that morning but promptly and comfortably dropped N5000 on betting. He didn’t win anything but revealed that he almost won N2.4million last December. “It was only Chelsea that spoilt my ticket,” he said in a manner common among bettors.

In less than a decade, the sport betting industry has grown vastly and become not just a source of income for many Nigerian punters but also a large job creation vehicle. Ordinarily, Nigerians are happy to watch football and celebrate goals of their teams but these days, they do so knowing that every goal counts for something and win, lose or draw the outcome of the game could matter for more than bragging rights. Watching and following football games are no longer just a simple recreational pastime; a late winning goal scored is no longer worth just three points. For bettors, it is the difference between ‘spoilt ticket’ and winning big.

Typically, fans are used to hosting heated discussions on the monstrous weekly wages of their favourite footballers but sport betting has turned that conversation on its head. Football fans now discuss their earnings from bets, as the sport has become a viable source of income for many Nigerians, findings showed.

“Even women are doing it these days, if you come in the afternoon, you will see housewives coming to play. Despite Nigeria’s high levels of poverty and unemployment, punters cut across various demographics regardless of earning powers. Even people that are employed are betting not to talk of someone that doesn’t have a job,” Benjamin added.

Femi Azeez is a mechanic with his workshop just across the betting shop. He religiously bets in the morning when he gets to work and in the evening on his way home. When asked if he had ever won anything, he said he has won small amounts but has hope that he will win big soon. “I pray and fast about it every time and I know I will experience breakthrough very soon. I do premier lotto, online betting and dog race with N100. I do everything because you never know where your luck will shine.”

Experts Harp On Hardwork
By Ijeoma Thomas-Odia
Dr. Olusegun Temilola of the Sociology/Social Work Department, Faculty of Social Studies, University of Lagos, those who indulge in betting are simply toying with their future in the name of pursuing overnight wealth. He noted that such people would always adduce many reasons for engaging in the act, one of which is to make ends meet as a result of the economic downturn of the country, and therefore blamed the government for the development.

“For instance, the Federal Government recently announced plans to increase the Value Added Tax (VAT). That means the cost of things will go up thereby making life more unbearable for Nigerians. So, that’s their own way out. Simply put, it portends great danger for both the people and the country.

“Graduates are produced yearly with no jobs and they are also not employable by today’s employers, among other factors. So, everyone seems to be in a hurry to ‘hammer’ and the government with its functionaries are the worst examples of encouraging youths to go into all kinds of crimes to make it before their time,” Temilola said.

For Dr. Raphael James, a Psychologist, betting houses are taking advantage of the gullibility of the average hungry Nigerian who feels that he can risk a little to win big.

“You know betting is all about two people risking to win over one another. It involves a person making a prediction about an uncertain outcome and being willing to forfeit whatever he has at stake if he loses. But if he wins, he will make more profit when compared with what he was staking.

“The betting houses feel that with more adverts in a country of over 180 million people, they can drag a greater number of the population into the business of taking chances. That is why they have more adverts springing up.

“It’s like people going to churches to seek miracles. Once a pastor performs a miracle on one church member, whether it is real or fake more members will flock the church. Some people who bet claim they have won hundreds of thousands of naira by betting just N3000. As such this becomes an attraction to the youth and adults.”

James explained that in the street where he resides, he had seen married women who sacrificed their household allowances to bet with the hope that they would win and make turnovers.
On what this portends for the society, he said the trend was an obsession that would destroy the future of many young ones, as some of them would end up emptying their savings and having nothing to fall back on.

“Easy come, easy go! That is how most cash made from betting disappears. The youth will grow lazy and become less productive with the idea that they can stay at home all day and bet small to win big. The betting houses will continue to get rich; for every 100 people that bet, may be five will win. But that hope and expectation that it may be me next time is what is pushing people to continue betting even when they are not winning and that is terrible.

“There is luck but I don’t believe in luck. Chief MKO Abiola said that for you to make it in life, you have to be in the right place at the right time and do the right thing. No one runs on top of a ladder, if you do, you will collapse. So, it’s high time Nigerians faced hard work and not luck,” he warned.

‘Why Some People Do It With Passion’
By Maria Diamond
Apparently, betting has evolved to a lifestyle for quite a number of people in Lagos State. Aside from being a means to make quick and easy money, it is also a brain tasking exercise such that a number of indulgers meticulously play the game in a manner that would enable them to win as much money as possible from the series of bet organisations in the country.

Prince Ilafi Agedegudu, a Bet9ja agent, told The Guardian that those who engage in betting, like football betting, do so with passion. According to him, 90 per cent of customers involved in betting are youths between ages seven and 45. He, however, noted that quite a number of older adults from ages 46 to 65 also engage in the act.

Agedegudu said people patronise betting platforms because it is now perceived as an avenue to make more money with ease. Though this is not a good reason to gamble but there are indeed some people who gamble to gain more money as answer to a financial problem. This reason can be a dangerous way because it involves risking the money one needs to save. Most people who gamble to gain more money hope and aim to win a huge amount and they see it as the only solution despite the realistic possibility of losing,” he said.

He added: “People only engage in betting because it is a profitable business as they would have quit playing if it were otherwise. The motto of Bet9ja is ‘Reward for Passion’; so, many are people involved in Bet9ja because of the passion they all have for football. The game is more profitable because as an agent, the commission is well received; and for the costumer it is more profitable for them as their reward multiplies as they play the games,” he said.

Giving further insight into why people engage in betting, Agedegudu said: “People sometimes bet for sheer entertainment and pleasure. Games that involve gambling can be really enjoyable than the other games people ordinarily play. The flair for fun and pleasure is natural for many people for all ages and all races. Gambling can give a quick rush or surge for adrenaline hormones. In a very busy world of hustling and bustling, people work hard and go through a lot of stress everyday, so gambling sometimes serves as a means of detox and the solution to a wearisome life. Any person can experience thrill in trying to guess the result of a game or in the mere fact of taking the risk and the possibility of winning a huge payout. Many long-time gamblers attest that gambling can give them a natural high despite the losses at times. There are people who just gamble to get away from the busy world of work. They can bring their families and be relieved of the tension they usually feel at their work or homes. Gambling games and other activities cut the monotony of the daily routine activities experienced by the player. It presents a different world of dynamism.”

He, however, noted that gambling might not be a good habit to develop since it could cause a number of problems as it always involves money, saying gamblers are always advised to gamble with an amount they can afford to lose.

“Notwithstanding, betting has improved the life and standard of living of many people. For a person who has won N1, 000,000 with just N100, the person’s life automatically changes for better. I know people who have built houses and bought cars with the money they won. Some people pay house rent and their children’s school fees with bet money,” he added.

‘Betting Has Multidimensional Implications’
From Rotimi Agboluaje and Bright Azuh, Ibadan
Kolapo Babatunde has been involved in the business of betting for over 10 years and indeed used proceeds to pay his child’s school fee last week when all hope was lost, even though Clement Akinyemi believed it is a bad habit, despite winning N57, 000 recently, just as John Godwin, a factory worker, said he would not leave the business, notwithstanding his string of losses.

A Manager of Merybet in Iwo Road area of Ibadan, Olanrewaju Olaleye, said the business is lucrative and beneficial to his numerous customers in many ways, insisting: “If it is not beneficial, those guys will not be patronising us again. Aside that it creates job, it reduces nuisance in society, engages the youth, gives hope to Nigerians and offers investment opportunities to the people.

“There was a guy who used to make noise in the neighbourhood, the moment he won N7million, his lifestyle changed and he became responsibility.”

On societal perception of betting, Olaleye said if it were not good, government would not have approved it.

On its implications, a sociologist, Dr. Usman Ojedokun, said: “The increasing involvement of Nigerian youths in betting has multidimensional implications. First, the habit is a gateway to other social vices, like stealing, drug abuse and violence.

“Second, it could lead to the onset of depression and emotional trauma for those involved, especially those that lost huge amount of money.

“Betting can also lead to pathological or compulsive gambling, in which the individual concerned would find the act difficult to resist.

“Also, betting outcome could degenerate into interpersonal violence among those involved.

“Finally, addictive betting can breed culture of indolence, laziness and get-rich-quick syndrome among the youth. These offshoots could impact the Nigerian economy negatively.”

At 9jabets, a popular sport betting outlet in Ibadan, Joshua (surname withheld), who has been betting for over two years now, saw it as the last hope and he is known to hardly fail.

“It is like every other business to me. I take risk and invest my money, hoping that it will yield increase. If it does, I have made profit, if not, I will try again,” said Joshua, an optimistic gambler who is not ready to quit yet, because “I use it to pass time; it is fun to me. I win sometimes and other times, I lose, but life goes on.”

Tolulope (surname withheld), a shoemaker in Ibadan, lost his chances of gaining entrance into the university to sporting betting. He was introduced to betting by his friend in secondary, got addicted to the gambling games and starting pumping all his income into betting, but never won in the process.

“My mum gave me N33, 000 to deposit in the bank, but I used it all to gamble on sport bet and I lied that I was attacked. I was also given N7, 000 for my JAMB registration five years ago, but I used the money to bet and lied that I had registered for my exams.”

His family found out what had actually happened and concluded that an evil spirit had possessed him; hence sought spiritual solutions to his betting addiction in church.

He recalled: “My mum took me to church, we slept in the church and I was restricted from my regular daily routines for a long time, just to keep my mind away from it.”

Tolulope, who still regrets not being able to go back to school after several attempts to write his entrance exams, finally settled in making shoes.

A 17-year-old Henry (surname withheld), whose father has been in the game for so many years, started sport betting game early in the year and has won on a few occasions so far, said: “I have won three times this year. I won N3, 000 when I first played with just N100 and I was happy.”

Although it comes with so much risk, Henry believed he and his father could win a lot of money from betting, considering his own ease of winning so far.

‘We Have Been Surviving On Betting Proceeds’ 
From Abdulganiyu Alabi, Kaduna
In view of the high rate of unemployment and poverty, many Nigerians, especially youth have continued to depend heavily on betting and lottery to make ends meet, believing that with little money, they could hit goldmine.

An attendant in one of the betting shops along Ahmadu Bello Way in Kaduna, Sampson Okpong, explained that most of the latest gambling industries operate by leaving a customer the option of betting in all sports of their choice, but cash out pattern differs, while computerisation enables payments directly into customers account once they submit their bank details, thereby preventing hiccups in paying the customer.

“For Nairabet, you can cash out before the end of the game once the team you placed your bet on are wining. In Bet9ja, cash out is normally delayed a little and you cannot cash out bets you have placed with bonus funds.

“In the case of 49-9ja, the betting pattern is different. It is a game of predicting colours and numbers. Digit of number appears in different colours on computer screen, the player either chooses to predict colours/numbers he/she thinks will reappear on the screen and a timer of five minutes is set. Once your prediction is accurate, you get paid instantly.

“The reasons for engaging in betting cannot be farfetched, as Nigerian youths continue to nurse the ambition getting rich quick without so much sweat,” he reckoned.

Majority of respondents blamed government’s failure to provide job for their involvement in betting and lottery for survival.

A retired civil servant, Alfred Sabo, said: “Instead of some youths to engage themselves meaningfully, even if there is no job opportunity, they rather sit around and gamble away their future.”

A customer, who wished to be identified only as Zahradeen, said life has not been easy for him, as he survives on daily basis from the peanut he makes from betting, in the form of correct prediction of the outcome of football matches.

Despite having won about N100, 000 from betting so far, his standard of living has not improved and he only partakes in betting to survive, due to unemployment and hunger.

Another gambler, who refused to give his name, said the betting has been helping a lot of people to solve their financial crises, adding: “Some people depend on what they get from this place (betting shop) to feed their family and some pay school fees through betting.

“Since I started betting, I haven’t spent up to N2, 000, but has made over N30, 000. A friend of mine a fortnight ago made N300, 000 from Bet9ja.”

Even as some Nigerians depend on betting/gambling to make ends meets, psychologists and sociologists highlight its negative effects, linking it to other social problems bedeviling society.

Professor Muhammad Tukur Baba, Head of Department of Sociology, Federal University of Kebbi, said like smoking and drinking, betting and gambling can also be addictive.

Speaking on the long-term psychological and sociological effect of betting, Baba said: “The problem is that gamblers can be very distractive, especially youths. It becomes a habit and anything that becomes a habit and stops you from normal functioning, distracts your everyday interaction, psychologically and sociologically, is very harmful.

“Betting can also be very harmful, because you tend to waste resources on productive activities. So, instead of investing in something that will create jobs and multiply, you gamble it. When you gamble, you either win or loose.”

He added that those organising and encouraging gambling are doing so not because they think their customers would win, but because they think they would lose, noting:
“The loss by a gambler is a gain to the organisers. For them, it is a business, but for you, it is a big problem.

“By getting addicted, you divert resources from your family. Instead of buying food with N20, you gamble with the N20 and get N40 and you lose the money and the food at the end.

“Like drug and other addictions, addiction to gambling can give birth to so many problems, especially if it is among the youth. When they gamble and lose, they look for more money to gamble. This may led them to stealing and engaging in other anti-social activities that will finance the gambling. Gambling is dangerous on its own, because it becomes an addiction. It is just a multiplier effect on criminality and so on.

“Furthermore, gambling is associated with other anti-social activities, such as drinking, smoking and drug addiction. You will see that all these things go together around gambling joints.

“It tends to destroy trust in an individual. If I know you are a gambler and you come to look for my daughter, I will be crazy to allow her to marry you. I cannot entrust you with anything valuable, because I think you may gamble it away.”

Lottery And Betting Rising Among Imo Youths
From Charles Ogugbuaja and Collins Osuji, Owerri
It is no longer news that young boys in Imo State between 18 and 30 year clutch around most betting outfits in the quest for easy money, with Owerri, the state capital, Orlu and Okigwe witness hordes of customers.

Some of the youths who drive around town in expensive cars, including exotic Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs), such as Lexus, Toyota and others, ascribe such as dividend of lottery and betting.

At some strategic areas in Owerri, majorly off Works Layout, by Imo University Junction, along Okigwe Road; Douglas, Orlu and Wethdral Roads in the city, witness many young persons angling to win, with some betting with as little as N20, sometimes hoping to win about N2 million.

Patronisers point to a commercial tricycle operator residing around Amakohia, who was said to have won N30 million from BetNaija about three years ago, and his life changed afterwards.

One diehard, John, said: “My decision to bet is to win with minimal amount. It is based on the match fixtures and winnings. Everybody wants to make money via easy means, sometimes, hard means. So many people are angling for easy money like this. It does not mean I do not have another means of livelihood.

“Our situation in Nigeria calls for diversification. In this case, you could use little money, as low as N100 to win N1million or N2 million. Those are the reasons.”

Uto Nne explained that she is into betting, including pool betting, to complement what she earns from her petty trade, saying: “I bet to see if I can make more. I do win, though little.”
Betting and lottery are lucrative in Imo

Manager of Bet9ja office in Ikenegbu, Owerri, Chibundu Uche, who disclosed that he attends to over 200 customers daily, said lives of many people have been transformed financially through betting, especially as there is no day people don’t win over N100, 000, while some have become addicted to the game even though they don’t win often.

A customer at another betting office, NiajaBet on MCC road, Owerri, who simply gave his name as Okwy, stated that betting is interesting only if one does it as leisure and not as a source of income.

He narrated how a young man used N86, 000 meant for his school fees to bet, he recalled: “I couldn’t believe how the guy was playing high amounts of money on games he wasn’t certain of winning. At a point, even some of us there tried to discourage him from betting further, but he refused.

“It was after the whole money had finished that he started crying, saying it was his school fees. Worst of it is that he even begged for N100 to transport himself back home. Such are the kind of people who give bad name to betting. Betting is not good for greedy persons or those who don’t have self-control.

“Basically, I bet to sustain my passion for football and once the money I budgeted for betting finishes, I stop and get away. Nothing will make me bet again.”

Sunny Ndukwu, a public affairs analyst, traced the high rate of betting to lack of job opportunities in the country and where, like in Imo, it has proven to be a genuine means to make easy money for most youths.

“The youths, a greater percentage of them after graduating from school don’t have anything to fall back to.

A Bet9ja super Master Agent for South-South and Southeast, George Smart-Obinna Onegbu, noted that betting has helped in no small measure to take youths off the streets and crime and providing them with job opportunities, insisting: “One of the positive things about betting is that you can play responsibly and win as much as N6million.”

But a non-academic staff of Imo State University (IMSU), Owerri, Dr. Tony Ibe, believed betting has rendered most youths lazy and made students dullards, warning that if nothing is done to curtail the rate at which Nigerians, especially youths, go into betting, “sooner than later, our society will be filled with nuisances.”

‘I Play Only On Saturdays Or Anytime There Is A Match Involving European Clubs’
From Lawrence Njoku, Enugu
In Enugu, like most states, betting is done under one room, fitted with a television and some desktop computers and business is open from Monday to Sunday, with young boys milling around and holding coupons of different shapes and discussing possible numbers that could win. The centres are busier during match days involving big European club sides.

Nkwachukwu Nwogu, told The Guardian at R&S Sports Betting office in the coal city that he had always made money from betting and the least money he had staked was N1, 000, while the highest he had won so far was N120, 000, missing the opportunity of winning millions when he played for N8million during the general elections.

“It was one number that cut me off. Every other number I played worked, but was cut off by one number. I lost the money I staked. That is the business and since then till now, I have not won again,” he lamented.

Nwogu, a trader in Ogbete Market, was introduced to betting by a friend he said won N5million using a single game last year, adding: “This guy came back and invested the money in his business. He was so lucky. That is why I decided to go into it.

“There is no money in Nigeria and for those of us doing small trading, we need support. When I won the N120, 000, it was a game of N1, 000. So, if I can get such money for just playing a game, why won’t I continue? One day, I might be lucky and win even millions.

“The thing is good because there is no story about your money. If you win, they will just slot the coupon in their machine and the moment it confirms that you won and that the coupon belongs to you, they will pay you immediately. They pay as much as N500, 000 cash. It is when your money is in millions that they may decide to pay through the bank. But there are no stories with money won through betting.”

Ejike (surname withheld), a tricycle rider, sees it as a means of livelihood, noting: “I play only on Saturdays or anytime there is a match involving these European clubs. I don’t play all the time and anything beyond N500 is not for me. I am not greedy. What I have going for me is this keke. My family and business could suffer if I lose more than N1, 000. You know that this is not something you win all the time.

“I have won in some occasions, N50, 000, N30, 000 and even N20, 000. It is good for me. If I decide to stake more money and does not win anything, it will really touch me if I do.”

George Ugwu, who runs Fortunes Bet, went into it because of the level of interests people were showing in the business, especially as Nigerians are sports lovers and would value anything that could put additional money in their pockets while watching football.

“What it means is that they will watch and bet at the same time. Some will, others will not win. I have a payment limit and anytime it is beyond what I can handle, I usually refer such cases to the appropriate quarters.

“One thing you must understand is that there are people with the franchise who regulate whatever we do here. I am like an agent who lives on commission based on what I generate. So, what may be obtainable somewhere else may not be obtainable here, but the business is not a bad one,” he said.

He listed some of the challenges of the business to include irregular power supply, as electricity is required at least eight hours daily, saying: “Those who come here must extract the confidence that you are capable to handle their bills all the time.”

Director of Dan Ukwu Foundation, Daniel Ukwu, reckoned that the country might have witnessed increase in crimes if several youths had not engaged in betting.

“You can imagine the number of young boys who are either operators of the business or players in it. These are people who have searched for jobs for a long time and failed to get. So, I believe the fact that there are no paying jobs in Nigeria is one of the factors that have fuelled the interest, in addition to the fact that our people are lazy and require easy and fast money.

“Imagine one spending N1, 000 or N2, 000 making millions of naira, when there are many civil servants whose income at the end of the year is not up to N1million. These are the issues,” he surmised.

Lottery And Betting As Emergency Source Of Income
From Tina Todo, Calabar
In Calabar, the Cross River State capital, some bet for the fun of it, while others see it as way of reducing restiveness and crime in society.

To Cobski Cobham, betting could be addictive, but has reduced crime among the country’s teaming youths, noting: “It is a kind of second job or an emergency source of income. It also provides you with the opportunity to regulate your flow of time, resources and inputs, as it rewards you according to the rate of interest you have.

“Thou betting is addictive, it can be controlled. That is why it is meant for people 18 years and above, but I think it should be made for 20 years and above. Betting curbs violence and creates a fantasy of achieving earlier than expected success, even though, I know it is not real.

“I am not a hardcore, so it is benefits are limited, because I have long-term plans and I take betting as a ‘try your luck’ kind of a thing.”

Another player who simple identified himself as Efanga, said he plays for the fun of it but his best win was N6, 000, adding: “It is partly for fun, because it is not all the time that we achieve or win money, but if you win something from it, good for you and if it does not work out, it is still good for you. That is why most of us do not put our mind to it.

“Again, the present situation in Nigeria has made most of us venture into betting, as it keeps our mind busy and most of us see it as part of fun. At least, you minimise the way to play, don’t allow it to get into you. I, for one, is not playing to achieve anything, but if anything good comes out of it, fine, but if not, life goes on.

“I have not really won big money, but since I don’t get too attached to it, I don’t regret it when I lose.”

When asked if it should be scrapped, he responded thus: “I will advice government to stop betting in Nigeria, because if I should sit down and calculate the N100 I put into betting out of fun, it is not fun any longer (laughs). What they normally say in the game is, ‘bet responsibly,’ that is what I mine. The maximum I have won with N100 was N6, 000, although I have been winning small monies and hope to be lucky one of these days with a big win.”

Ime Tommy strongly condemned any plan to stop betting, saying he started betting when government policy paralysed his business some years ago, insisting: “I don’t think it is a wise decision to take, because everything has it advantage and disadvantage.

“I see no reason why government should want to stop betting. They should rather improve the economy and provide jobs for Nigerians, and then they will see that we will get occupied with something better than playing bet. Let’s not lie, so many people are benefitting from this. Just last week, my barber won N48million with just N100, is that not a blessing?

“This is another way of creating job for us; I think the easiest way for youths to make money is through the betting. Even some people that are working are into it.”

In the same vain, a banker, who identified himself as simply Ubong, said some people are lucky to succeed in betting and lottery games, stating: “There are people that play this game and use the money to pay their house rent, send their children to school and keep the family going. I know, because some of them are my friends and neighbours.

“Gambling that most western countries are using to make money is legalised. Before, I played it a lot, but now, I do it once in a while. Since I came to believe that there are people that are made to function in that area, I just observed that it not my area of calling, so I stopped. But sometimes, I still play if I am sure of winning the game. I have account with all the games and I have experienced all of them.

“Betting has reduced unemployment and whether you agree with me or not, crime has also reduced drastically, especially in my area, while the tax the betting companies are paying is boosting enhancing government revenue,” Ubong stressed.


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