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Sports Betting, New Means Of Livelihood? Manasseh F. Paul-Worika

For long, the line “football is big business” was to many Nigerian football followers, limited to the fat wages, transfer fees that run like telephone numbers and eye-popping endorsements and television rights deals they gather around newspaper vendor stands to read about.

Today, many of them are coming to believe and act upon this saying to add some extra cash to their pockets by doing something they’ve for so long done for fun, predict the outcome of football matches.

Admittedly, there has always been some kind of roadside sports pool staking in major cities of the country which has thrived for many decades but the recent explosion of full-fledged sports betting in the country has taken it to a whole new level.

Over the years, many betting companies have emerged in Nigeria. We have Nairabet, Merrybet, Bet9ja, Naijabet, Sure-bet247, Sportbet, Betking, Winnersgoldenbet, and many more. Betting outlets can now be spotted on almost every street in Nigeria’s major cities, with new ones springing up every day.

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. Every day, it gets easier to pay, play and win or lose. There are about 160million cell phone subscribers and 100million internet users in Nigeria, with 80 present of this figure being able to access the internet on their phones.

According to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), about 60million Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 40 years spend up to N1.8billion on sports betting daily. And by one account in the report, a betting company can generate up to N20million naira monthly and use between N5million and N7million to meet winner’s obligations in terms of payment.

With just N100, sometimes even as low as N50, hundreds of people, old and young, male and female, emerge from the betting centers daily and twice the number on weekends, clutching slim papers containing their prediction amounts staked and, hope.

In a country where poverty levels are so high and unemployment is in double digits, this is not surprising at all. This hope also breeds addiction, which is a problem of its own. The damaging effects of gambling on an individual and society are well documented and it is not different in this case.

Speaking to The Vortex, Clever Ilere, a sport betting fan has this to say. “The advent of sports betting is a welcomed development. I see it as a means of helping unemployed youths. If you look critically, you’ll see that most youth who engage in social vices like: robbery, cultism etc have now diverted their attention to sports prediction and have so much hope they come out winners. I know it has the negative effect of being addictive, because I’ve seen persons who would rather starve than miss playing a slip. But in any way we may look at it; I think it has done more good than harm to our society”.

Also speaking, Ebiowei Eyenghe a sport enthusiast said, “I know every individual have varying thoughts on sport betting. But for me, it remains a game, nothing more. And you know in a game, sometimes you lose and sometimes you win. I believe sports bet are good and a great idea but I don’t think any individual should see it as an alternative source of livelihood. It should be something done for fun and not taken as a full time job. That is where most persons get it wrong and that is why most persons get so frustrated when they lose because they put their all into the game without considering the effect of their actions”.

It is important to note that, individuals choose from a wide range of betting companies based on some factors which include; amounts on bonus, closeness to customers, versatility, etc.

The potential economic benefits of legal sports betting are quite juicy. It can increase state revenue in form of taxes and other levies paid to the government. Taxes from sports betting in Rivers state for example, rise 30 percent to 40 percent in 2017 from 2016.

There are also induced impacts on the economy which arise as employees spend their wages in the broader economy. For example, sports betting employees spend money on rent, transportation, food and beverage, and entertainment.

Innovation is a key to success in the business of sports bet as bet companies have worked out more opportunities. The outcome of one of these was when Bet9ja first introduced a state-of-the-art virtual dog race into the market and it became an instant success.

Irrespective of the view you have about sports betting, there seem to be an increase in sports betting outlets nationwide as a lot of people have considered it an alternative means to survive the harsh economic conditions in Nigeria.

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