Sports Betting: From ‘Try Your Luck’ To Money Spinning Venture

January 22, 2021
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Nigerians’ affection for sports is no longer just about entertainment but a money-making venture. SALIFU USMAN writes on the popularity and economic boom of sports betting business in Nigeria.

The global sports bet- ting market continues to surge in popularity. It’s one of the fastest-growing sectors in the world, offering tremendous potential for both sportsbooks and bettors.

With the digital revolution in full swing, the sports betting industry continues to undergo dynamic changes, expanding in established markets and forging its way into new ones with Nigeria emerging as the second largest online bookmaking market in Africa, behind South Africa, with a Gross Gaming Revenues of $58 million in 2018, according to a report by auditing firm, PwC.

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The report projects that GGR will rise by 16% over a five year period. As one of the world’s fastest growing markets for mobile phones, the widespread use of mobile phones in Nigeria has been a positive game-changer for the sports betting business, as it has become easier for sports fanatics to take their interest in sports to a greater level, having realised the financial benefits that could be gained from predicting match
scores.

The sport betting industry has impacted the Nigerian state in a great way. Apart from creating an opportunity to test the knowledge of fans with respect to the team they support, this industry has successfully created job opportunities, increased tax revenues for government as well as exposed talented sport
analysts.

More importantly is the fact that sports betting in Nigeria is not growing in isolation, but rather moving along with other industries, especially the banking, information technology and telecommunications sectors. The inter-relationship between these sectors can best be described as symbiotic, with each benefitting from the other.

It is true that sports betting has been aided by improving banking and payment systems; and technological advancement (more mobile phones, internet), but betting has also given a lot in return. Bookmakers now have affiliations with banks, payment gateways and telecommunication companies, leading to a significant increase in the activities of these sectors, and consequently boosting their revenue generation.

According to Nigeria InterBanking Settlement (NIBSS), there were 29million web pay- ments, worth N132 billion as far back as 2017. Imagine being charged N50 for every deposit you make via Quickteller or internet banking; or being deducted N30 every time you fund your account via the mobile USSD service. Now think about the millions of deposits made into betting accounts per day; that is serious sum of money for the banking industry. In a country where the majority live below the poverty line, sports betting becomes easily available employment and quick money opportunities for ordinary people, generates tax revenue for the government and contributes to economic growth.

According to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), about 60 million Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 40 are involved in active sports betting with almost N2 billion spent on sports betting daily, which translates to nearly N730 billion in a year. This has made it move into the mainstream culture, as people no longer see sports betting as something left for the trembling elders who spend their pension earnings in pool houses, but rather as an option for the tech-savvy Nigerians who wants to hit the jackpot and move on into a life of comparative luxury.

The expansion of betting companies operating in Nigeria has provided more employ- ment opportunities, with thousands of the citizens working for both the local and foreign companies. Apart from employing Nigerians into their offices, betting companies also create jobs by inviting people to become agents and own physical outlets.

These outlets have become very prevalent in Nigeria, and have provided an excellent source of incomes for their owners. The shop owners also have their own employees, who earn their small share from the sports betting jackpots.

Just as football viewing centres sprung up in the wake of the foreign football obsession in the country, so also is the rise in sports betting generated employment opportunities for people. It is now commonplace to see shops prominently advertising the major sports betting brands, such as NairaBet and 1960Bet, to mention a few, with store attendants who receive and place bets on behalf of people who still do not trust the online space enough.

Some enterprising football viewing centres have taken their businesses up a notch by having their bet shops where their customers can place try their luck with their favourite teams and clubs.

Furthermore, sports betting market is also poised to grow on account of the rising popularity of international sports events around the globe coupled with the increasing popularity of high-end sports such as football, basketball, tennis has gained a lot of traction in the past years, which has led to a increase in the sponsorships for clubs, teams, players.

Additionally, the rising investments by numerous sports organisations in marketing and promotional activities have led to increased investments by major betting companies in providing sponsorships for sports teams around the globe.

Thus, the rising commercialisation of sports events is considered to be a key factor that is expected to positively impact the market growth during the next few years. Since most Nigerians show interest in football more than the other sports, the betting sites allows betting on all football league matches, especially the European leagues,
which includes English Premier League, Spanish La liga, Italian Seria A, German Bundesliga, French Lique 1, UEFA
Champions League, Europa League as well as the local Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), FIFA World Cup, Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) and CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup.

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