Examining Nigerian youths’ growing sports betting habit

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By Okon Okon, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

Nigerian youths gaming addiction, especially football betting, has become source of worrisome to many parents, community leaders and others charged with the responsibility of grooming the young people into adulthood.

Nowadays, young Nigerians, on a daily basis, are seen at betting centres placing all kinds of bet on various football matches, sports personalities and sporting activities.

While many do it as a form of fun, others see it as means of putting food on their table.

However, whatever is the reason behind it, many observers say youth addiction to betting should be a source of concern to the society. Among adults, the challenge is betting addiction.

Approximately 66 per cent of Nigerians, according to data, have placed bets on a sporting event at least once in their lives. Online gaming is extremely popular and expanding quickly’’, says Betblog.

“Revenue in (Nigeria’s) Online Sports Betting market is projected to reach US$294.20m in 2024. Revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate of 6.45%, resulting in a projected market volume of US$402.20m by 2029’’, according to Statista

Mr Magnus Ekechukwu, Deputy Director Public Affairs National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC) says the commission is against underage participation in any lottery gaming.

Ekechukwu explained that the commission’s rules and law only permits people from 18 years and above to indulge in gaming, adding that the commission is also frowned at gaming addiction among even adults.

“Our law does not encourage underage game, gaming starts from age 18.

“The national lottery Act frowns at underage gaming, it’s in our law and the regulations of 2017 as amended and it has always been part of the guidelines given to the operators“, he said.

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He said the commission, as part of measures to discourage betting addition and juvenile betting periodically undertakes campaigns in the media to educate the public on betting rules and regulation.

“The commission conducts checks on betting centres and, the guidelines the operators have directs them to only attend to people who are 18 years and above in any form of lottery and gaming.

“Also, the commission has been engaging in media campaigns through jingles against this underage gaming “, he said.

On addiction among adults, he said the commission had instructed the operators under what he called ‘Responsible Gaming’, to advise their clients or shut addicts out of their platforms.

“Addiction comes under what we call ‘Responsible Gaming’, so what we try to do is to direct our operators to also advise their players.

“If somebody is trying to put a certain amount and have the particular pattern of taking huge money into games very frequently, operators have the responsibility to probably shut the person off the platform.

“It should also investigate why such people are trying to spend so much on gaming or lottery or betting.

“So that way, they help to check people who are excessively indulging in betting, so that’s one of the ways to check responsible gaming,” Ekechukwu said.

According to him, there are sanctions by the commission on violators of rules among lottery operators.

“There are sanctions from the commission against the operators who violate the rules on underage gaming; it is something that the commission takes very seriously.”

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Mr Layi Onafowokan, Managing Director, National Lottery Nigeria, said several factors such as economic hardship, unemployment, social pressures and peer influence, emotional escapism, and lack of awareness could push Nigerians to the act.

On measures to curtail this, Onafowokan said, was dialogue and collaboration with stakeholders, media, regulators, and the public could create a safer and more responsible gaming environment for everyone,

“It is important to acknowledge that while some Nigerian youths are drawn to betting, not all are addicted to it.

“As Managing Director of National Lottery Nigeria, I understand the concerns surrounding betting addiction and its potential effects on our younger generation.

“While National Lottery Nigeria operates ethically and responsibly within the legal framework, I believe tackling this challenge requires a collective effort”, he said.

Similarly, Mr Kenneth Pius, Manager BET9ja, said his betting firm was very strict in its operations as it would not in any way, allow persons less than 18 years into the betting premises.

Pius said that allowing young people below 18 years to participate in gaming is against the NLRC’s guiding rules.

“Based on the order from lottery commission, we don’t allow any child who is not up to 18 into this premises, let alone participating in betting games.”

According to him, the commission officials and even policemen visit their centres periodically to check their activities and ensure compliance to the laws guiding the gaming sector.

On addiction by adults, Kenneth said betting is a choice, adding that it was gamers, adults in particular, should control their appetite towards it.

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Mrs Comfort Amah, a parent, explained that it was lack of jobs that pushed most Nigerians into gambling with the hope of making quick money.

Amah, nevertheless, advised youths to focus on their education, adding that they have more chances to make money in future after their education.

“It is a painful thing to me whenever I see these little ones who are supposed to be in school to study and even those who claim they are students hanging around betting premises.

“They are too young to be desperate for quick money’’, she said.

Mr Samuel Ndubisi, another parent, said Nigerians take to gambling due to lack of reasonable things to do or to invest to make money for a living.

“The main reason is because there’s no job in Nigeria. When there’s no job obviously youths will go into betting because it is like a game where they hope to get money from there.

“It is a way of living for many youths. When you invest small money like N50 for example and win up to N20, 000, you will be motivated to invest more in it.

“That`s one of the major reasons they are addicted to it, ” she said.

Ndubisi urged the government to intervene by providing better job opportunities and more skills acquisition centres for youths, adding that strict regulation of the industry would minimise addiction among adults. (NANFeatures)

**If used please credit the writer and the News Agency of Nigeria.

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