Charity Nwakaudu, Abuja
With the high rate of unemployment in the nation, most Nigerian youths have turned betting into full time job. It has never been this bad that youths engaged in the game of fast money through sports betting.
Sports betting has become a huge business enterprise as most youths strive to achieve their goals while the betting companies do their best in redeeming for those that have won. The number of betting companies keeps increasing as more youths develop interest for sports betting. These youths commit as much as they can afford to betting with very slim chances of having their dreams come true.
Most times, they end up with remarks like “Barca why?” “MAN- UTD why?” “My 1.5m wey I for win?” “One number cut my game”; “these people don finish me oooh”; “my 5m oooh”; “e remain just one game oooh” and “oh my ticket don tear.”
One of the punters, Ebere Okoro, confessed that majority of the youths who engaged in betting are mostly in one form of debt or the other. He said they go to the extent of borrowing or even using monies entrusted to them to place the bet with the hope of winning and making profit:
“For those who go into betting because of unemployment and those who bet and do other jobs, there is always a hope of good news after placing the bet. But most of the times it never comes. What we always hear in the place are; ‘these people don kill me oooh’, ‘just one game’ and ‘Barca why?’ It is very difficult to see winners. I have been playing for five good years and have only won N30,000. If I check what I have spent on betting it is not funny but once you start this betting, you will not feel like stepping out.”
Henry Tim admitted that there are those who have placed bets regularly for a very long time without any winning while there are also some who are lucky have been known to win the very first time they attempted sports betting: “Some people have spent a lot of money on betting without recording any winning. So, you cannot win all the time.”
Another punter, Ali Adamu, said that beside the winnings he records, he also make a lot of money from selling winning numbers to fellow punters. He added that those winning numbers are not always reliable, some also fail at times: “We don’t expect to get it right at all times because we are just gambling on the results of football matches and other sporting activities.”
Dan Sani confessed that betting is taking over most of the time of Nigerian youths, either because of unemployment or some who are employed yet are not well paid so they see betting as an alternative way of keeping soul and body together. He said with the nature of his job, he only bets on Sundays, though he has not won anything yet but he still have hope that he is going to win one day:
“I don’t normally watch matches because of the nature of my job. I depend on some punters who forecast winning numbers. Though I have not won anything yet but I have been always close to the number. At times, it will be just one digit that will obstruct my winning. So, I am very optimistic that very soon, am going to hit it real big.”
John Aji disclosed that betting is his occupation for now. Though he is not happy with it because he cannot boldly say it in the public but it has really changed his life for good. He said the first game he played, it changed his life with a very good sum of money. He was not ready to disclose to the public. He said though he is not a fan of any football team but with the involvement in betting had made him to became a regular football match viewer because it aided him in deciding the bet to place:
“Most of us the youths now relay on sports betting as a means of livelihood because of the high level of unemployment in the country. I am a graduate but with no job, I have discovered a source in betting. It has really changed my life because I won first game which ran in plenty zeros.”
Friday Onoja from Mpape who works with one of the betting companies said it is not easy to handle the punters, especially those who bought winning numbers from you and it did not come out as they hoped:
“This business is not easy because you interact with different kind of people who come together under the umbrella of betting. Some of them are always ready to fight, you see them coming to tell you that the number that won the game is the one you recommended for them but they have lost or torn their tickets so you must do something.”
Vivian Eke, expressed displeasure over the high level of youth involvement with sports betting. She attributed it to laziness and the quest for quick riches: “There are lots of ways of making money without working at government sectors but because of the high level of laziness on the part of Nigerian youths, most of them have resolved to betting.”