A population of over 200 million and a median age of 18 means that sport in Nigeria should be big business. The 2020 Draft National Sports Industry Policy estimated that the industry could generate N2 trillion ($4.7 billion) in average annual revenue, provide 5 million to 10 million direct and indirect jobs and contribute around 1.5% to 3% of GDP over 10 years.

However, sports development in Nigeria is still struggling, with the sector contributing well below 1% of GDP. Some see betting as a potential engine for growth. Increased interest in betting could mean higher match attendance and better TV viewership, making team sponsorship more attractive. Government tax revenue from betting could be used to develop sports facilities.

If we can eliminate the issues around the integrity and professionalism of clubs and how well they are run, more companies will be able to offer quotas. This can stimulate widespread interest in the NPFL and begin to unlock the potential of the league.

“The sports betting industry in Nigeria has huge potential to grow Nigerian sports, especially soccer. Some of the betting companies have started offering odds on matches played in the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL). But most are not because they remain skeptical or cautious about the competitive nature of the NPFL,” says Babatunde Koiki, director of strategic partnerships at sports media and marketing consultancy 12N2. The Africa report.

One reason is that stakeholders in the league scoff at the FIFA Statute prohibiting a single entity of owning two clubs in the same competition, he says. The rule is intended to ensure the integrity of the competitions. In the Nigerian league, Enyimba Football Club Y Abia Warriors Football Club They are owned by the Abia State Government. The Cross River State Government also owns united akwa Y Dakkada Football Club.

“If we can eliminate issues around the integrity and professionalism of clubs and how well they are run, more companies can offer quotas. This can stimulate widespread interest in the NPFL and begin to unlock the potential of the league,” argues Koiki.

Betting on growth

Licensed sports betting companies in Nigeria number a total of 47, according to the regulator National Lottery Regulation Commission (NLRC). Sports betting platforms competing for market share include Bet9ja, NairaBet, BetKing, Betway, Sporty Bet, Winners Golden Bet, and 1xBet. a local newspaper, Working dayreported that more than 60 million Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 40 spend around $5.5 million on sports betting every day, or $2 billion a year. Most of it revolves around foreign sports activities, mainly European soccer leagues.

The growing adoption of technology by betting companies backed by progress in digital penetration across the country is spurring sports betting among the educated and middle class. But widespread unemployment in Nigeria it has been identified as the main reason for the increase in sports betting.

  • More than 33% of Nigerians of working age are out of work. Among youth, 63.5%, or more than 19 million, are unemployed or underemployed, according to the country’s statistics office.
  • “I know many people who have made sports betting a source of livelihood. I know people who allocate a percentage of their salary to bet monthly. I know people who run their families with sports betting. I know those whose only source of funds to refuel their cars, feed their children, spend on parties, etc. it’s sports betting,” says Koiki.
  • Poverty in Nigeria affects young and old, rural and urban dwellers, men and women. Nigeria has 70 million extremely poor people, more than 30% of the population, second only to India. as the country with the most people below the poverty line.

Many have found relief in sports betting and the hope of a big win.

“The percentage of those betting with N100 to N200 vs. punters who spend a lot more tells you that sports betting is largely driven by poverty, the state of the economy and the need for people to make ends meet. a month,” says radio host Sulaiman Pooja. Adebayo.

One of the few companies that have cracked the offline physical gambling game is Bet9ja. According to Adebote, who runs several outlets in Ogun State, says soccer betting is the most popular in his shops, followed by basketball, with virtual games also popular outside of soccer season.

Adebote says you can still earn up to N500,000 in a bad month.


While sports betting can be used to unlock the potential of Nigerian sports, especially soccer, it is important that the government come up with regulation to prevent addiction, which can ruin lives, businesses, and relationships. This is a particular danger in Nigeria, whose gambling population is largely young.

“There are many minors who have betting apps on their phones or patronize betting shops and are into sports betting. This is a major social problem: some of these children gamble with their school fees, while others borrow money from loan sharks who intimidate or abuse them in the process. And there are reports of sexual abuse in the case of women”, says Koiki.

He said that regulators should actively try to curb addiction and underage gambling by setting limits and rules, organizing regular training seminars for officers on addiction prevention, and providing counseling and therapy.

“They need to do more because they obviously aren’t doing enough,” says Koiki.

Bottom line

Nigeria needs to ensure that its youth do not end up as collateral victims of the growth of sports betting.