By Cyril Ilayah
A tech savvy gaming expert and lawyer, Mr. Fred Marioha has advised the Nigerian government at all levels to tighten regulation in the country burgeoning betting and gaming industry, stressing that it is only a well regulated industry that would attract investments.
Marioha said the call on the government to expedient action on regulation is based on the fact gambling in Nigeria is still not well regulated, despite the fact there is the gambling law in place for the industry, which analysts and watchers estimated to be a N2bn+ a day business, still has a lot of potential to grow further and to have an even bigger impact on Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This is so because of what the world has become dues to abundance information, occasioned by the Internet….Check www.bettingsites.ng for more information about this.
While admitting that gaming and betting are legal businesses backed up by global bodies like the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) and other relevant bodies, Marioha believes that more investment into the industry will improve the country’s job creation quest and more revenues that can be collected by the tax/government authorities. “Nigerian governments can leverage a lot more on this gaming industry as they can divert the earnings into development of sports, entrepreneurship centres and other areas of youth development,” Marioha told ITPulse at a Youth Summit in Lagos.
He added that gaming, especially Sport Betting among the youth has undoubtedly proven to have created direct and indirect jobs for millions of Nigerian youths, placing bets on football games weekly. The revolution in sport betting he noted, has been sparked by a number of factors, including media, technology and of course, the internet. He stressed that there is huge money to be made in the Nigeria’s Sport Betting industry, when the government sees it to be so.
According to available statistic, over 60 million people in Nigeria within the youthful age range are into betting and gambling. This is not surprising. Nigeria is a football crazy country with a huge youth population. Though, arguments abound that sport betting is not limited to football lovers only, it has also, been extended to those who have nothing to do with football or any other game.
This is not surprising. For some, it is a way to make quick money, while others argue that the high rate of unemployment is largely responsible for the uptake of betting in Nigeria.
Sport betting business is a very lucrative business in Nigeria, with many making millions of Naira off the shelves daily from bet that people are placing. Many online betting platforms exist in Nigeria, with Nairabet being the oldest, strongest, financially stable and fast paying betting company in Nigeria with world class customer support. The top 10 betting platforms in Nigeria, according to BestCityBet are Nairabet, Bet9ja, Naijabet, 1xbet9ja, Megabet, Merrybet, BetOlimp, Bet365, Noxwin and Betway.
What does the law say?
Gambling, Betting or lottery in Nigeria is regulated by National Lottery Regulatory Commission, was legalized with National Lottery Act, 2005. The gambling is defined by Chapter 22 of the Criminal Code Act enacted in 1990 and splits the games into two categories. The legal and illegal games. The legal games are Lottery, land-based casino, sports betting. The games roulette, dice games, and non-skilled card games are illegal. The law regulates the slot machines activity and only licensed operators can provide slot machines gaming
Presently, the Nigerian law does not mention online space and there is not any restriction for the people to reach local or foreign gambling sites. Despite the fact internet space is not mentioned exactly in the law. The companies are obliged to follow the regulations and laws as it is in the land based casinos. All types of online games are available except those who are illegal.
Though, different figures and statistics are available, one thing is sure. The gaming industry in Nigeria has continued to expand, largely to youthful population, improving internet penetration, and the increasing access to internet-enabled devices.
Meanwhile, available figure says the industry is worth N2 billion daily. This translates to N60 billion a month and nearly N730 billion in a year. At the global scene, according to Digi-Capital, $30.3 billion in gaming industry deals happened globally in 2016, including $28.4 billion of mergers and acquisitions, a 77 percent increase from the previous year.
Challenges in the industry
Some players have pointed at the overlap in the regulatory function between the Federal and state levels as the major challenge facing the sporting industry in Nigeria. As such, an overhaul of the regulatory environment is required to enhance oversight and improve inconsistency in enforcement of license generations and payment of levies, development and revenue generation. They advised that at the state level, the necessary regulatory framework will need to be set up to properly regulate and govern the gaming industry for effective transparency of betting operations.
What people think of the future of the gaming industry
Nigeria’s gaming industry is quite fragmented with many small players. As user behavior changes and spending needs increase, the industry could be forced to consolidate – a key trend across the global gaming industry. This industry consolidation has been attributed to the growth in mobile and virtual reality. We expect to see consolidations as there are currently over 100 licenses issued by both the NLRC and LSLB.