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Sports Betting And Online Gambling In Nigeria: What You Need To Know

by Margie Stein (2021-10-24)

Ranked 7th amongst the countries with the largest population, it’s safe to say that Nigeria is one of the largest online sports betting and online gambling markets in the world.

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, with a population of 201 million people. It also is the 27th-largest economy in the world in terms of nominal GDP and is to be considered an emerging market.

Nigerians’ standards of living are growing hand in hand with the economy, which means there are more and more people with enough money to engage in gambling.

Gambling has always been popular in Nigeria. Football betting, for example, has a long history that dates back to colonial times, when pool betting was popular amongst older adults. Nowadays, most forms of gambling are surprisingly illegal in the Country, since the 1990 Criminal Code Act.

Online gambling, on the other hand, is still an open question as the laws do not mention any online gambling activities. In the absence of a clear law, all online betting and gambling activities are therefore to be considered legal.

All Nigeria based betting sites are, in reality, operated by offshore companies and the lack of a true regulation gives the Nigerians a vast choice of trusted betting platforms, offering a multitude of services.

Gambling in NigeriaBefore 1990, gambling was as popular as frowned upon by society. It has always existed in the Country, but it was viewed as an antisocial activity, especially by the Church and the Christian groups, which discouraged people from seeking quick wealth.

With the approval of the Criminal Act Code, the Nigerian government officially legalized certain forms of gambling, trying to generate tax revenue. Thanks to this, gambling has since become more and more acceptable and popular, especially to the under-aged. Nigerians seem to love sports betting, lottery, and slot machines. They now see gambling as a harmless leisure activity.

Gambling (or, at least, the types of gambling cited in the Criminal Act Code) is regulated by the National Lottery Regulatory Commission. Nigerian law distinguishes games of chance from games of skill. The first ones, to which dice games, non-skilled card games are roulette all belong, are deemed illegal.

Nigerian gambling scene generates around $400-500 billion every year and its growth doesn’t seem to slow down. Online gambling, however, is difficult to analyze: the only form of online gambling officially legalized by the government is sports betting and it’s said that Nigerians spend almost $2 billion annually on it.

When it comes to online gambling and casinos, there is a huge gray area in the Nigerian law.

Is Online Gambling legal in Nigeria?As we said, Nigerian law doesn’t mark as legal any form of online gambling apart from sports betting. It doesn’t mention online gambling at all! Because of this lack of any reference from the law, online gambling has to be considered completely safe and "legal". This allows international sites and platforms to offer Nigerians many games and services, such as online and live dealer casinos, bingo sites, poker rooms, and, of course, online sports betting.

There is also a downside to this way of treating online gambling: no law means that there also is no protection against frauds and other scams. Someone gambling in Nigeria should never take online gambling lightly, taking extra care in choosing the site he wants to bet on.

Of course, there are age restrictions to register on gambling sites, as underage citizens would not be able to withdraw their winnings. The gambling age in Nigeria at on-site casinos is 20 years of age but, online, this is reduced to only 18.

Nigerians also have one notable advantage: we said that the State does not regulate online gambling in any way, so the winnings are not taxed!

Sports Betting in NigeriaSports betting is the only online gambling activity officially legalized by the government. This means that the operators have to pay taxes to the government. However, it is very difficult to understand where the tax money generated from Nigerian sports betting goes. It is known that land-based operators are taxed on their profits, although the exact percentage is not known.

It is believed that the percentage of taxes imposed on the winnings in Nigeria, as well as many other African nations, is around 20%. All of this uncertainty is because the regulations on sports betting in Nigeria are not clear at all.

We can practically say that the industry of sports betting, as well as the online gambling industry, is completely unregulated. Online sportsbooks are available on the internet and the Nigerian government doesn’t seem to be willing to take them down.

Even if unregulated, sports betting in Nigeria is considered completely safe. There are plenty of competitive gaming companies that give to almost 60 million Nigerians the chance to place bets on their favorite sports.

People must still be very careful: they must research online the best and safest operators, someone to be trusted, just to be sure they don’t run into any possible scam.

ConclusionsThere is a large gray area in almost every law regarding online gambling in Nigeria. The regulations are not clear and are often very sketchy, but this does not stop Nigerian gambling lovers at all. Several sites are offering their services to online gamblers, who only need to find the ones they trust the most!