Revealed: Bet9ja, Nairabet, Betking, rake in $10m daily from underage punters. Sports betting platforms in Nigeria have witnessed massive growths in the past few years with a rising teaming youthful population believe to be a major driver for this growths. All thanks too to the teledensity rate which, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), currently stands at 97.4 per cent.
The increased access to the internet, through internet-enabled devices, including mobile phones, tablets, laptop and desktops, has turned the industry into a super lucrative sector; which is leveraging on the football culture of Nigerians.
According to statistics, about 60 million Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 40 are involved in active sports betting, on which, an average Nigerian punter spends roughly N3,000 daily, gambling. In a 2016 data report by Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler (KPMG), it disclosed that a foremost sports betting company in Nigeria makes an average monthly turnover of $10 million (N3.6 billion according to CBN’s rate). A similar report accessed by Comsmedia. revealed that Nigerians spend N730 billion ($2.02 billion) annually on sports betting out of which a minimum of N2 billion ($7.2 million) is generated by these betting platforms daily.
The emergence of sports betting in Nigeria can be traced to the years of pool betting in which punters line up at pool bet bookmakers (betting shops) to register their predictions on several games with a stake.
History has it in the record in Nigeria that Nairabet became Nigeria’s first online sports betting platform owned by the Oyo State-born politician, Akin Alabi, when he launched the platform into the Nigerian market in 2008.
Little had anyone imagine the industry’s tremendous growth until the year 2013 which saw the arrival of the nation’s most popular sports betting platform, Bet9ja and afterwards, the likes of Winners Golden Bet, Betking, Sportybet, etc., as well as foreign entrants such as Betway, Bet365, among others who surfaced into the relatively fragmented market in which punters are afforded with diverse choices or preferences as well as ease of cash out and best of market odds.
Saddening to note, is the influx of underage punters at the bookmakers’ shop. This has, however, become an industry-wide practice which the regulators, National Sports Lottery Plc. and National Lottery Regulatory Commission, despite having stated the 18+ age requirement, have witnessed these betting sites flout the rules by allowing these young punters to participate. But are there any penalties for this flagrant flouting of the regulatory guidelines? Who is enforcing them or are regulators now carried away by the winnings and are, therefore, allowing game-on?
An insider at one of Nigeria’s topmost betting platforms who sought anonymity revealed to Comsmedia. reporter that “the sports betting business in Nigeria is booming as a result of the current economic downturn across the nation, which has driven a high percentage of the population into sports betting as an easier means to make quick money.
“Another angle which most platforms take advantage of in this business is the free entry given to underage punters into the bookmakers’ shops. These set of the underage population are easily influenced by peer pressure and the quest for financial independence. Although this is against the regulatory authority’s rulebooks many a time, these young punters hide under the guise of having been sent to stake a game under the guidance of an elder,” the insider asserted.
Most analysts familiar with the matter have analyzed the psychological disorder associated with these social vices with punters providing reasons such as high rate of unemployment, coupled with the current economic situation in the country, the quest for quick money by Nigerians, poverty and economic hardship, amongst others.
Meanwhile, responses from some punters who spoke with Comsmedia. revealed that they engage in the act of gambling just for fun and also working to get paid from their passion for the sport, while other respondents disclosed that they got involved as a result of peer influence.
Other surveys as reported by PWC identified the influx of foreign entrants into the market, the broadening customer base, increased regulation, as well as more fostered partnerships, as the main trends driving the changes within the industry in Nigeria.
However, the document further posited that the future of the lucratively booming sector will witness changes in the areas of virtual fantasy sports betting which has already been adopted by these platforms with reason coming from the period of non-footballing activities across the world as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, other trends as identified by PWC, to be the driving forces in the industry, include mergers and acquisitions, which will arise as a result of changes in consumer behaviour as spending needs increases, deposition limits for punters as a way to control punters’ money spending abilities. This method is currently being adopted by Skybet and Bet365 in the United Kingdom.
It is without a doubt that the prevailing economic conditions which have had a spiraling effect on several low income Nigerian households, as well as the introduction of sophisticated technology into Nigeria, has aided the thriving of an industry which so many see as a social vice leading astray Nigerian youths. However, the negative cum positive effects it has had on the country and the punters, cannot be overemphasized.
Fundamentally, the industry, although still in its take-off stage of development, whose success can be factored to have been triggered by the high rate of unemployment, has enjoyed high patronage in the country.