Nigeria has a prime online betting industry with mega-sites like 1xBet Nigeria or Nairabet leading the market. Sports are so popular in this African country. Additionally, the economy is on a brisk growth trajectory. The increase in the sources income makes sports betting an accessible form of entertainment for many of its citizens.
However, Nigeria lacks a solid regulatory framework to control gambling in the era of the internet. It is a similar case in most countries, not only in Africa but also in Asia. The status is clear and evident when you compare the regulations in Nigeria to those of established countries such as Australia.
Nigerian punters are free to participate in online betting without stringent requirements. You won’t find laws that are specific to online betting terming it an illicit activity. Therefore, there is a large population that bets over the internet.
The country has a long history with illicit wagering activities, including off-book casinos and illegal pokie machines. The major challenge in the country today is the engagement of children below the legal age participating in gambling. Despite having a law that prohibits minors from staking, there is no keen enforcement of the same.
Most of the underage citizens cite that the industry is so lucrative. The main factor that facilitates the vice is the tendency of Nigerian bookies to accept very low bets that kids can easily afford.
There are two gambling regulatory bodies in the country.
- Lagos State Lottery Board
Lagos city is the home to numerous betting sites that operate in this country. Therefore, the government found it necessary to establish an independent board to control gambling within the territory. It has been in operation since 2005 after establishment in by the Lagos State Lottery Law of 2004.
- National Lottery Regulation Commission
This commission came into action through the 2005 National Lottery Act. It regulates the lottery operations across the country. Besides, it has the mandate to ensure accountable and transparent actions in the lottery scene and protect the interest of the bettors, stakeholders and the public at large. The headquarters are in Abuja but has offices in 15 other states including Lagos.
The Two Laws That Govern Gambling Nigeria
Two laws associate to gambling in Nigeria. They are specific to gambling and have been around the country for 30-40 years.
- Gaming Machines Prohibition Act (1977)
This act states that possessing or running a gaming machine is illegal. Additionally, it declares that the penalty for this offence is a maximum of one year in prison. Besides, the Nigerian Federal Government will forfeit the machine. This act does not have any impact on sports betting.
- Criminal Code Act(1990)
Chapter 22 of this act describes illicit gambling operations and penalties related to running or playing at an illegal gambling room. Additionally, the act outlaws non-skilled gambling.
The fact that Nigeria permits games of skills means there is nothing to worry for the sports betting fanatics. However, games of luck are illegal in the country. But there is an exception to three land-based casinos that offers roulette and slots machines.
Going by the code explicitly, sports betting are legal in the country. That is because it is not entirely based on luck to emerge victorious in sports betting. If you carry out your research and get more knowledge about the teams and the conditions of the match, you can boost your chances of winning. Furthermore, sports betting involve mathematics.
However, note that the regulation applies to land-based bookmakers that are only supposed to ruin tote betting pools. Besides, they must have a valid license for the same. In case they operate other types of gambling, they may be put in trial with hefty fines and jail terms for those who run them.
Online betting in Nigeria
Technology, particularly the internet, has come with disruptions on the way people carry out most of the things in their lives. Betting is not an exception. Since it is a new technology, the regulations in the most country are yet to catch up.
European countries, such as the United Kingdom have unreservedly embraced online bookies and casinos. The United States is in relatively early stages of adoption the legislations which begun in 2018. In Nigeria, there are no regulations to oversee online gambling. It is a major drawback to the entire industry, although that is more of a threat to the operators than the bettors.
With an understanding that the laws on online gambling in Nigeria are not clear, it means that the determination of criminal cases involves interpretation of the current laws.
Absence of clarity has led to an extensive proliferation of online gambling firms that have no license. But punters can also sign up and play at many licensed casinos located outside Nigeria.
Prosecution of bettors is unheard of in the country. Therefore, players can fearlessly stake at the bookies and casinos.
Due to the absence of regulations that are specific to online gambling, bookies have the edge over online casinos. The latter uses non-skilled games such as lottos, slots and roulettes. The current regulates the games of chance as illegal in the offline scene. Therefore, they stand to be unlawful in the online space as well. On the other, sport betting is a game of skill. Thus, punters are free to participate in them.
A popular sport among punters
The profile of Nigerian soccer in the European leagues has been on top from as early as 2000 to date, with the likes of Nwankwo Kanu to Victor Moses and Alex Iwobi.
Due to that, most of the Nigerians have a close attachment to the major leagues in the world. The enthusiasm for football reflects on sports betting—most of the sports punters stakes on football matches. But there are other sports as well. You can find quite a large population betting on boxing, tennis, and basketball.
Due to the unclear regulation of the gambling industry in Nigeria, there is less risk than most of the countries. The authorities do not focus a lot on betting. But it is the punters who are at an advantage since illegal gambling operators are subject to prosecution. However, players in the country are safer when they transact with licensed overseas bookmakers and casinos. At least those offer relatively more protection that is entirely not present in unlicensed local ones.