Sports betting has been popular in Africa for some time now, with Nigeria and South Africa being two countries on top of the list in terms of numbers. However, what used to be mostly an activity limited to physical shops has now expanded to online platforms, creating a clearly visible new trend.
In recent years, online sports betting has seen a huge surge in popularity in Nigeria, with many people flocking to both locally regulated and offshore betting platforms to indulge in their favorite hobby.
It wasn’t that long ago that betting and other forms of gambling were frowned upon in the country. However, all that started to change after 2005. And now, we are seeing a new trend inspired by online platforms.
Immense Influence of Mobile Betting Apps
The number one reason why online sports betting has picked up so much traction in Nigeria is its availability. Modern bookmakers allow punters to bet via their smartphones, which means that almost everyone can register for an account and place bets whenever they feel like it.
Given the fact Nigerians, especially the members of the younger generation, are crazy about football, it is no surprise they were quick to pick up on the possibilities provided by new technologies.
According to some recent estimates, about 60 million people in the country are actively involved with sports betting. There is no doubt that online platforms, specifically mobile apps, have played a crucial role in this.
There is no reason to think this trend won’t continue, either. In fact, realizing the potential of the Nigerian market, many bookmakers are going out of their way to make their platforms as accessible as possible. They’ve been introducing local payment methods and optimizing their sites so that they work well across all sorts of different devices.
Will the Government Get Involved?
Unlike most other gambling activities, sports betting is actually legal and regulated in Nigeria. The Nigerian Lottery Commission licenses bookmakers operating in the country, and they pay licensing fees and taxes.
Offshore operators, however, continue to offer their services in Nigeria unchecked. At this point in time, the law simply doesn’t address these bookmakers, so they are free to cater to Nigerians without any obstacles.
With a large number of people taking their betting business offshore, it is entirely possible (and quite likely) the government will eventually step in. A lot of money goes to foreign bookmakers, and the country isn’t benefiting from it in any way.
Should this happen, all Nigerian betting sites will need to acquire a proper license, regardless of where they’re located. This model has been in place in many European countries for several years, so it’s nothing new.
Given the market size, there is no reason to think this would change much. Many bookmakers would happily acquire necessary licenses. If anything, people’s level of trust in these sites would increase, as they would also have local licenses.
It seems that online sports betting is the next big thing in Nigeria, and it is here to stay. It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which this activity doesn’t continue to grow in the years to come, barring a blanket ban on betting in the country, which seems very unlikely at this point in time.