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Nigerians turn to sports betting in face of economic failures

Nigeria gambling
Nigeria gambling
Nigerians are turning to gambling as a way to stay financially afloat.

With up to 180 million people, stats show three-quarter of Nigerians believe the government has failed them. They see the government as a failed political apparatus. They must either swim or sink to survive the times.

With family obligations getting ever wider, the best many Nigerians can do at the moment is to turn to sports betting. And millions of people hope online sports betting can give them an opportunity for some monetary rewards.

A survey by Business Day reveals that about 60 million Nigerians bet on sports every day. These are within the age bracket of 18 and 40 years. They spend an average of N3,000 (about 20 USD) daily on sports betting per head, averaging about N1.8 billion ($60,000) per day on the gambling. This underscores one point: if the government fails them, sports betting would not leave them hanging.

Whether in shopping malls or betting shacks, bettors stake up to $100 daily

Sports bettors cut across all classes in Africa’s most populous country. From bankers, bus drivers, auto mechanics, backup singers, school teachers, upcoming artistes, and university students to vulcanizers; sports betting has become a lifesaver for many for economic survival.

Depending on their abilities at any given moment, they start small by betting about $1 and then graduate to up to $100 per game. Most of the bets are placed on football (soccer) games.

Sports betting operators run their businesses in rented shopping malls or in unsightly shacks and roadside kiosks. The place of business does not matter to millions of Nigerians so far they can assuredly place their bets and hope for quick winnings. Many have considered these betting shops their place of daily business, leaving home and resuming there for day-long gambling sessions.

You hardly visit these shops without seeing a minimum of 15 people milling around betting on sports.

Celebrations and violent anger on display

There is a growing concern that frayed tempers and wild jubilation at betting shops across Nigeria pose a threat to peoples’ safety.

Emotions rise and tempers flare at many of these sports betting centers. When the teams people have betted on to win play badly, then curses erupt; but when they play smart, then jubilation rents the air.

While there is undoubtedly a dark side to sports betting in Nigeria, others have celebrated their wins by buying food for their families or even setting up small scale businesses.

The philosophy of many Nigerian sports betters is: you win some, you lose some. And that philosophy has kept them going even in the face of constant losses.

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