Almost everyone has stories of someone who has won or lost tons of money betting on sports. A simple internet search will return tons of examples. There is the story of a popular senior GP in the UK who was jailed for three years for stealing £1.1 million in a space of 3 weeks due to online gambling addiction. There’s a four-story block, off Ikotun Igando Road, rumored to have built on the success of sports betting. The stories, whether of gain or pain, are endless.

Experts point to the increasing penetration of mobile phones, the widespread availability of broadband internet and the growing global attraction of football leagues in Europe as the main drivers of the ubiquity and adoption of sports betting in Nigeria. The involvement of popular influencers in sports betting marketing is also a factor here. Despite the deeply religious orientation of citizens, sports betting has continued to gain ground across the country.

Sports betting can be a fun and exciting form of entertainment, but it can also be addictive and potentially harmful if not approached with caution. In Nigeria, as in many other countries, sports betting has become increasingly popular in recent years, with an increasing number of online and offline betting companies offering a wide range of betting options. at various sporting events.

The concern is that there are risks associated with sports betting, including the potential for financial loss, addiction, and other negative consequences. In Nigeria, youth and women are particularly vulnerable as operators invade every corner without thinking about the social impact of their efforts.

The government must also take a more active role in regulation, granting permits and protecting citizens from unscrupulous sports betting operators.

One of the main dangers of sports betting in Nigeria is the potential for financial loss. Betting on sports involves risking money on the outcome of a game or event, and it is not uncommon for people to lose more money than they can afford. Families have starved, children have had to drop out of school and many homes have fallen apart due to financial losses caused by sports betting.

Another risk is the potential for addiction. Some people can get so engrossed in sports betting that they neglect their personal and professional responsibilities. It can lead to problems like abandonment of family and work and even criminal activities in some cases. Experts acknowledge that the game is addictive. Sports betting, in all its forms, is gambling. It follows that sports betting is addictive, contrary to what operators may try to show.

In addition, the issue of gambling by minors through sports betting deserves special attention due to the possible harm it can cause to minors, including addiction. Unfortunately, today minors can access sports betting facilities without any type of tax.

It is clear that in order to truly minimize the risks associated with sports betting in Nigeria, it is important to take a holistic approach. Yes, people who participate in sports betting must take responsibility for themselves and their families and know how to exercise caution and set limits for themselves. People should set a budget of how much money they are willing to risk, gambling only with money they can afford to lose, and be willing to seek help if they feel their gambling habits are becoming a problem.

But the government must also take a more active role in regulation, issuing permits and protecting citizens from unscrupulous sports betting operators.

Operators are naturally quick to point out that sports betting creates jobs. They point to the large number of betting outlets across the country, plus in-house staff members to show that they are a viable economic activity. Also, they pay taxes. However, its operations in many cases can leave a lot to be desired.

At over $2 billion, the nation’s sports betting industry is a giant today. However, it must be tamed if the country wishes to reap the benefits. Again, the onus is on the government and the regulator to get it under control before it ruins the future of the youth.

Consider this, while sports betting is becoming more and more popular, the impact on sports development remains largely negligible. We must ask questions. During the past decade of tremendous growth, how many new sports fields have been built with funds from sports betting?

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Can the sports betting industry signal to athletes that their sponsorship has been supported and promoted? How much is paid in taxes and levies and to which body?

What are you doing to stop the increase in the participation of minors in sports betting?

These are the problems. If sports betting exists only to make money for a few, feed gambling addiction and increase underage participation, it is not a business but a parasite. Therefore, it is necessary to tame them, reduce their activities and take a closer look at their modus operandi.

The sports betting industry must demonstrate a clear commitment to sports development. It also has to invest in measures to curb the participation of minors. In addition, you must pay the corresponding taxes.

The National Lottery Regulatory Commission, the regulator of the sector, urgently needs to assume its responsibility to protect society. At a minimum, the commission should insist that operators implement strict age verification processes to ensure minors cannot access sports betting sites or shops and push to educate the public, especially minors, about the dangers underage gambling through school programs, media campaigns and the community. beat.

The National Assembly may also need to consider strengthening laws that prohibit minors from gambling and include a provision to prosecute those who violate these laws. Security agencies must be willing to enforce the law to its fullest extent.

Parents also have a responsibility to care for their wards. They need to closely monitor their children’s online activities and have open communication with them about the risks of underage gambling.

In general, it is important to approach sports betting responsibly and be aware of potential pitfalls, risks, dangers, and opportunities. If the country takes the necessary precautions, sports betting can make huge contributions to the nation’s economy. And it is possible that people can enjoy sports betting as a form of entertainment without exposing themselves to unnecessary risks. This is the future.

Eromosele, a corporate communications professional and public affairs analyst, lives in Lagos.