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Sports betting: The gainers, the losers

24th August, 08:51

With Nigerians spending a whopping N730 billion on sports betting in 2018, it is obvious that it is gradually becoming one of the biggest revenue-generating avenues in the country. BENJAMIN UMUTEME looks at gainers and losers in the business.

Nigerians spend over N730 billion annually on sports betting and at least N2 billion is generated daily, recent research data shows.

Data also revealed that over 60 million Nigerian punters spend over N3, 000 daily placing bet stakes. At least there are 50 betting sites in Nigeria with the number growing annually.

Research statistics show that over 14 million bet stakes and payments are made over the internet every day. This, however, does not affect the rate of teeming punters at offline, physical shops.

Sports betting and Nigeria

Sports betting is becoming as much of a national sport as sports themselves. The practice is legal in all 36 states of the federation, as well as in Abuja. And, as reported in 2014, around 60 million Nigerians were estimated to be placing sports bets per day around the country - which is about 30% of the population.

Football is one of the most widely followed sports in the country, with fans lining up to watch games both for local games on TV in the European leagues. The followership that is attracted to the sport is unprecedented, as it becomes more popular each day. This is not uncommon. In fact, European football is the most widely followed sport in the world. However, Nigeria in particular has one of the largest followings of European football clubs in the world. Fans are fierce about supporting their given team, even though that team may be many, many countries away.

Generally, in a culture where a sport becomes more popular and betting on said sport is legal, the betting industry revolving around the sport grows and thrives. This is certainly the case in Nigeria and other sub-Saharan African countries. As the sports flourishes, so do the amounts wagered on games.

With increasing access to the internet and TVs now widespread, the ability to follow any European game as it happens is a reality. Anyone, anywhere, is able to have the sport beamed across the planet directly to them. This year, 40 per cent of Nigerians are actively using the internet, and around 50 per cent own a mobile phone - and with it comes the access to resources, content, and yes, football, like never before.

Not only is betting on football becoming more widespread, gamblers are betting more often.

Blueprint Weekend observed that youth football betting is generally experiencing exponential increase with many staking bets every day rather than once, twice, and even three and four times a week, with the majority of bets placed on each ticket coming in at between N100 and N500. This is partly due to the prevailing economic condition and the need to augment their income which is becoming leaner due to prevailing economic realities.

Our correspondent further observed that betters exhibited repetitive gambling behaviours. In fact, it is rare to see one of them that does not place at least a bet in a week. When this reporter visited a sports betting office, he observed that it cuts across all levels and class systems of the society, as is typically around the world.

At the Nairabet office in Jikwoyi Phase 2, the flow of patronage is unending. A visitor to the place at any time of the day will not fail to notice people coming and going out - an endless stream of customers. In a brief chat with a customer, Godwin Eche, who said he had come to place a bet before heading to work at 9:00am, told Blueprint Weekend that sport betting helps him complement his income.

Speaking in Pidgin English, he said, "If no be nairabet, e for no easy; how much be my salary for where I dey work?"

Operators of the business are both local smaller businesses, as well as international houses with a local partner - this is typical of online betting platforms offering services in Nigeria. The technical expertise required for payments, etc., is generally provided by overseas companies. While there is a push to develop local technical solutions, the easiest option of grabbing ready made overseas products tweaked to the Nigerian market is generally the go - to choice for businesses.

The sport betting sub-sector

Over the last couple of years, the sport betting sub-sector has grown in leaps and bounds. From just a few betting companies/sites there are now over 20 sites where people can patronise.

The Nigerian Sport betting companies (sites) are the same standard as any international bookmaker companies (sites).

You can place bets on all international gaming events with them. With some of these sites you can even place bets during live games. Some also support all types of games, football, basketball, etc. Apart from international games, some are also supporting bets on the Nigerian Premier League.

Sport betting companies operating in Nigeria are: Nairabet; 360bet; Surebet247; Merrybet; BET365NAIJA; 1960BET; Bet9ja; Betrepublicana; Betcolony; Lovingbet.

However, there are other sport betting sites in the country, which include:;;;;;;;;;, and

'Best thing to happen'

For Saka, betting is one of the best things to happen. For several years his desire had been to buy a small car so he could go into the transport business. So, when a friend urged him to try sports betting, he was initially skeptical, but after about three months he now knows better, as according to him, his level has changed.

"I started placing bets several months ago and last just last month, I won about N600, 000 and I have fulfilled my desire. I now have a Golf car that that is bringing me money daily. Many people have been condemning betting, but to me I have benefited," he said.

The story is even more interesting for another patron, who simply identified himself as Donald.

According to him, since he started patronising sports betting companies he not had cause to regret it.

"I am a football fan and when I noticed that I could make money from my passion I started placing bets. From placing bets I have been able to complete my house and moved into it. I am now able to send my children to better schools and my standard of living has changed completely," he said.

'Bitter experience'

While Saka and Donald may have benefited or are still benefiting from sports betting, it has not been all good news for million others who have continued to play in the hope that they will one day hammer.

For Mike, who resides in Phase Two in Jikwoyi, it has been a bitter experience with sports betting.

According to him, he lost a job opportunity in Kano because he used his transport fare to place a bet hoping that by Saturday evening, he would get back his money with interest to travel to Kano for the job. But, alas, it was not to be as he lost, and so went his chance to land the job that would have changed his life forever.

"In 2017, I was supposed to travel to Kano to start a job with an insurance company, and because I did not have enough money I reasoned that I could quickly place a bet with the money I had on me and make extra money before travelling on Monday. But that was my greatest undoing as I didn't win, and I lost my money. That was how I lost a job that would have changed my level," he said.

Mike's case is one in a million of bitter experiences from sports betting.

For Nobel Obiora, he sold his agro-business combining the proceeds with his savings to purchase predictions from a fraudulent channel that swindled him.

He spent almost N1 million trying to place a 'sure' stake with the hope of making over N10 million in returns.

According to him, losing all his money made him to realise how addicted he was to betting and how much he had given to the greed and dissatisfaction that comes with regular betting.