Author: Nonyelum Ozoemena

Sports betting is experiencing a massive surge in Nigeria with an estimated 60 million Nigerians actively involved in the business run by about 50 companies.

According to Business Day, Nigeria has become the second largest online gambling market in Africa, behind South Africa, with a Gross Gaming Revenue of $58 million in 2018, according to a report by top accounting and auditing firm, PwC. The report projects that the GGR will rise by 16% over a five-year period.

This means sports betting, especially football betting, has a tremendous impact in the Nigerian economy.

It is no news that Nigerians are a football crazy people. And sport betting companies such as BetNaija, NairaBet, Betking, MerryBet and the British company, Betway, etc have cashed in on that to grow their businesses while providing both fun and finances to the people.

The growth of information and technology in the country, with many now having access to mobile phones and affordable internet, as well as the skyrocketing unemployment rate are important factors pushing many Nigerians to find solace in sport betting where they can make lots of money playing odds.

The increase of sport betting companies in Nigeria has also contributed immensely to employment and many Nigerians are not just employed by these companies but also encouraged to become agents and own their physical outlets all over the country.

Sport betting does not work in isolation but work in tandem with other sectors of the economy such as banking, information and technology and entertainment sectors. We know for a fact that Betway was the main sponsor of the recently concluded Big Brother Naija Lockdown where the winner Laycon went home with 85million naira in addition with other prizes.

However, there are pros and cons in everything and sport betting is not exempted. No doubt sport betting has made positive impact in Nigeria. But it also came with some problems.

Like earlier stated, Nigeria is a football crazy nation. There used to be a time when people just watched football for the love of it. It is no longer the case today as most Nigerians are hustling to make ends meet in a crippling economy. Unemployment is on a record high. No one has time to watch football for what it truly is – a thrilling combination of of fun and passion.

What this means is the thrill of passion for football is gradually dying in Nigeria. Even the Super Eagles, Nigeria’s national team, are not doing well at the moment because the players themselves seem not to have passion for the sport.

It is a sad development as football is no longer fun and passionate as it used to be. It is just business. And with the way things are going, a time will come when nobody even remembers the true essence of the most popular sport in the world.

Let’s talk about what sport betting truly is – gambling. Gambling is two-faced. While it has favored some, it has also led some into a spiralling downward part. The youths are most especially affected as they are the ones who play the most odds. Students have lost their school fees. Husbands have lost their family finances, businessmen have lost their businesses to gambling.

To conclude, sport betting has found a goldmine in Nigeria. It is not going away anytime soon. But just as we are enjoying the positive impacts in our economy, we should be careful so we don’t actually lose focus on why we love football so much.