Sport betting has assumed another dimension in Nigeria. It’s winning several adherents on a daily basis. Many people have now become addicted to betting. This could be attributed to the economic situation in the country. Reportedly, several amount of money is spent yearly on sport betting in Nigeria.
According to Sport betting managers, majority of those who play it are unemployed youths. It, therefore, means that the high rate of unemployment in the country exposed youths to other ways of making both ends meet.
This also has given rise to its popularity and accessibility. Wherever you are today in Nigeria, there are sports betting centers. To name but a few, Bet9ja, Naira bet, Golden bet and so on.
In an interview with The Next Edition newspaper, Matthew Adeniran who works with Nairabet, explained that there were many winners and losers everyday, “people win almost every day. People also lose. But the losers are far more than the winners.”
What causes addiction? Why have people become addicted to something that makes them lose money on a weekly basis? Could it be the hope of being rich one day that it offers?
Some people say poverty is a major reason why people go into it, some others disagree, arguing that rich people also indulge in it. What drives them all? Surely, the desire to make quick money is what they may all have in common.
Of all sports, football is the most popular in Nigeria. That is why people place bets on football games more than any other sports. Apart from the major European football leagues, punters also place bets on Asian football leagues, women football and so on. Some also try their luck in other sports like boxing, horse racing, tennis, basketball.
As a result of the variety of sports, there are games going on every day. Each centre is always buzzing with people ready to gamble as they call it.
This new craze in town is like being addicted to “drugs.” One “addict” who simply gave his name as Tope said. “I just can’t do without it. It has become a part of me. I went into it because I don’t have job. If I had something doing, I would have still gone into it for the fun of it because I love football and really know about it. But my situation today is that my life depends on it.”
Asked about the risk involved, he replied, “Like every business in life, there are ups and downs. You win some and you lose some. In my own case, I have won more than I have lost because I play wisely,” he boasted.
Tope is not alone in that regard. Solomon Ekanem, also shares the same view The Next Edition. According to the 27 year old graduate who is unapologetic, betting has become a means of livelihood.
He said, “this is how I survive. I thank God for sports betting. Without it, I am sure many people would have turned to crime for survival. Why don’t we look at the brighter side of it instead of bringing out the negative aspect of it?
As for Jacob, “I have not won anything. I have been playing for five months. I believe my luck will shine one day.” That’s the same hope that keeps most people playing and betting everyday, while praying that one day it will be their turn to also win.
When asked how much he has lost, he said, “I have lost close to N25, 000 naira altogether. That is despite the fact that I don’t place big money. The highest I play for a ticket is N200. There are others who place bets of over N1, 000 for a ticket and end up losing.”
“Considering the amount I have lost so far, I can’t just stop without getting something back. I’ll stop even if I get half of my money back. I just have to win something,” he told The Next Edition.
Lolade, who works at Nairabet said, “That is what most of them say.. They say they will quit once they win something. Winning and losing is almost the same thing. The more you win, the more you want to play. Likewise losing, the more you lose, the more you want to play, hoping to win someday.”
She continued, “That is where the addiction comes in. It is addictive.”
When asked if it is limited to the poor or unemployed, she said, “No. The big boys also play. There are many well-to-do people in the society who love football and want to try their luck. A few of them come here, while most of them place bets on their phones without coming to the centers.”
A week ago, an unidentified male collapsed at a branch of Bet 9ja. The reason people gave was that he was about to win N24 million but lost because Chelsea defeated Watford last weekend.
It is one example of depression. Another youth at Egbeda in Lagos failed to speak with friends and family for almost a week because he staked N5, 000 and lost. There are several cases, which have not been reported.
“As long as it makes me feel happy I don’t have any problem. I play with my money and not anyone’s money,” Taiwo Oluwole said.
“Hope is what keeps me going. I am buying hope with my money. Anyone who is hopeless is almost a dead man in life. I will continue to play with the hope of winning. The hope of making it big through sports bets keeps me going,” Oluwole explained.