A foreman working with an Asian-run company in Lagos did not know how deep the craze for get-rich-quick money-making venture through betting has eaten into the socio-economic fabric of our nation until his recent experience in which he sent one of the casual workers working with them to make some withdrawals from his personal account, using his (the foreman’s) ATM card.
He had always sent him on such errand in the past but on this very day a captivating and compelling idea came into the young man’s head and he used the money (N15, 000) that he was sent to withdraw to engage in betting. He had hoped to make his own quick money from the betting game before returning the capital to its owner. But somehow things went awry and he abysmally lost out. Afraid of what might be his master’s reaction if he gets to hear what happened, he refused to report back to the office.
After waiting for him for a long time after receiving an alert from his bank, he sent one of the casual workers to go looking for him. That one went and found him sitting by the side of the road, and holding his head in his hands and lamenting his foolishness and big loss. This was the report that he brought back to their master. Although the amount was eventually deducted by installments from his daily wages until it was completed, that incident became an eye opener to those who didn’t know as to how pervasive the quest to get rich quick through betting, as a result of the biting economic situation has become, especially among the youths, so much that now every Tom, Dick and Harry is engaged in it with alacrity.
In fact, the latest report on sports betting in Africa sees Nigeria as the first African country with the fastest-growing betting market and the second one with betting share in Africa. According to a recent report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the country spends about $12 million a day on bets and more than $4 billion per year. Starting a betting site in Nigeria is no longer a complicated matter, what with high-technological websites with powerful servers, fantastic deposit bonuses, as well as free bets to make money from betting.
Welcome to the new world of betting. It has gotten to the point that many people do not limit themselves to only the popular football leagues, they also go as far as placing bets on unknown leagues. Some stay in their houses to watch football matches of their favourite teams and do not bother going through the stress of watching it at a football-viewing centre. People stake as low as N100 while some do so with as high as NI million depending on how rich they are. Gambling or betting is among the games of luck in which the results depend, partially or totally, on – you guessed right – luck.
How they operate
Popular betting operators in Nigeria include: Bet9ja, Live Betting, Naijabet, Nairabet, Surebet, Lovingbet and Merrybet. In Bet9ja, one can use advantages of betting combinations like First Goal scorer and Half-Time/Full-Time and high odds. In Live Betting option, the odds change once in 90 minutes. On weekends, the number of bets can reach 10,000 on one offer. The payouts are done between 24- 72 hours. In Naijabet.com, the minimum bet is N100 and the minimum payout is N500 at once. The maximum amount to withdraw is unlimited. And, withdrawal of money occurs with no extra charges.
At Nairabet, the smallest possible bet is N50 and the biggest is N25,000,000. In Surebet, the maximum win is N1,000 and 500,000. Winnings exceeding this amount will be reduced to the limit. The minimum amount to withdraw is N1, 000.
The maximum amount to withdraw is limited by N500,000 at one time. At Lovingbet, the minimum bet is N50 and maximum win is N5,000, and N10,000. At Merrybet, the minimum bet must be N100, the maximum one is up to N2,000,000 per one player per day. Placing the same bet more than once is not possible. And, withdrawals are made within 24-hour working days. The minimum amount to withdraw is N1,000 but one can withdraw maximum of N500,000 at a hit. There are also betKing, 1960bet, Pool, Fortunebet, Betwin9ja, Marathon bet, Nairabet Nigeria 1X bet, Surebet 247, betwin9ja, accessBet, 9jaPredict etc.
Why gambling is on the increase among Nigerians
Investigation by Saturday Sun shows that many of those who gamble do so to survive the hard economic times. In a discussion with a better who introduced himself as Joe King, he said that the game once saved him from the shame of being ejected from his one-room apartment. According to him, when his factory work stopped two years ago, he could not easily lay his hands on any other job. Because of that, he could no longer pay his house rent.
“During that period, I was helpless and did not know what to do, until a friend introduced me to gambling, especially, sport betting,” he said. “In fact, he was the one who gave me the N200 that I used to play the game the following day and I won the sum of N45, 000. That was what I used to settle my landlord.” King explained that though he had lost in some cases, he cannot forget how betting had touched his life positively. “I know that I am losing a lot of money from betting, but it has also helped to pay some of my bills especially in times emergency.”
Mr. Tunde Kale, a better informed that the high rate of unemployment and poverty in the country has led many people like him to go into it as a saving grace. “For me, poverty is the major cause for the high rise in betting in Nigeria,” he said. “You see, people need to find a way to make money and survive the hard times. We are not expected to steal before we eat. Many condemn gambling or betting, but they forget that it favours many people.”
He revealed that there was a time he won N120,000 from sports betting and used the money to buy an Okada. “Some of us who are into betting know that it is a game in which you either win or lose,” he explained. “And, I do not play with huge amount of money. For instance, if some who drinks beer can spend N500 on two bottles every day, I prefer using half of that amount to bet. The question is: between two of us, who took a better decision? So, betting is good if one knows how to do it and never allow it to be part of him.”
Some of those who engage in the game, especially pool-betting, say they play it to escape or forget about problems. Pa Jack Inomire, a pensioner, said that playing pool to him is leisure which keeps his life going. “The money I use to play pool is not a waste because I go there to spend time and discuss with other people,” he insists. “Sometime, staying at home is boring. So, going out to play game with little money and chat with friends becomes the best option.”
Betting among teenagers
The most popular form of betting among high school students is the card games, followed by instant lotteries, skill-based activities, sports betting, and bingo. Girls tend to gamble less than boys, and in proportion, boys are more likely to experience gambling problems. In the past, boys and girls did not use to engage in the same kind of gambling activities: boys prefer cards, sports betting and skill-based activities, while girls engage more in instant lotteries, cards and bingo. But today, the reverse is the case as both boys and girls are into sport betting in order to make quick money.
A student, who goes by the name, Kudus, revealed that he plays gambling for fun, excitement, and to make money to support his education. “I started playing it for the fun I derive from it,” he told Saturday Sun. “Each time, people would gather and be discussing about the amount they won. Sometimes, those who won big money would throw a small party for guys and they would eat, drink and have fun. So, that really attracted me to began to use my pocket money to bet, and sometimes I win and sometimes I lose.”
How betters get winning numbers
Many betters claim that they get their winning numbers from game forecasters, while others get theirs from co-gamblers who are magnanimous enough to share more likely winning numbers with them. Investigation reveals that cigarette and Indian hemp smokers are always ready to share likely winning numbers with co-smokers who are interested to play.
In the words of Michael Okeji, no intending better finds it difficult to get numbers, except the person does not show interest or go to betting centres. He also informed that mad people sometimes distribute numbers to betters which, most times, turn out to be a clincher. “Many of us get winning numbers from mad people who have the spirit of forecasting,” he said. “We give them N100 or N200 to collect the numbers and the numbers win on most occasions.”
A popular song by an Igbo artiste way back in the 80s talked about a woman who was given some money by her husband to buy some things they would need in the house using the housekeeping money to engage in betting in order to make more money. But she ended up losing not only the money but also her wrapper, and her sanity, as she betted not only with the cash but also her scarf, wrapper, blouse and pants. She lost in each case and, at the end, went home naked while Aba traders who witnessed the incident continued to boo her, to her greatest shame, as she made her way out of the betting venue.
“Look, a new mad woman had arrived town,” they sang, accompanied by wide clapping. “She is going home to meet her husband, stark naked.” In the current craze for betting, no woman has become that crazy yet for the big financial haul, with meagre amount. But with the way Nigerians, young and old, are going about the betting issue, don’t be surprised to hear that happening somewhere, sooner than later. The next time it happens it could be a female student using her school uniform to bet or another housewife using the feeding money given to her by her husband to do so just like the story of the woman in the song.
Many gambling addiction stories start out innocently when one makes a trip to the sport betting centres and gets a few good wins, then a loss or two. Ordinarily, betters feel a “rush” when they gamble, and because of the desire to experience the same rush again and again, they start to lose control over how much time or money they are spending on it. One Mr. Sikiru Adelakun is of the opinion that if one only gambles with money he can afford to lose, and not with money he needs for settlement of bills, there is no problem with that.
A lot of gamblers feel that they are waiting for the ‘big win’, which never comes but always seems tantalizingly close. But oftentimes having a big win would simply fuel their desire for more opportunities at gambling, leaving them feeling trapped into a behaviour with no way out. Mrs. Dupe Oni, a diehard better, said that betting is a way of life and part of business. She explained that the way people buy and sell to make profit is the same way that betters invest their money and hope that it yields a better result. “Some of us who gamble either in Baba Ijebu or online sports betting are also into business because sometimes we win or and sometimes we lose. So, to me, it is a way of making a living,” she argued.
But it is not one without certain avoidable consequences or repercussions. One Cyril Okema said he started the betting game as a way of relieving stress, of having fun. But unfortunately, he started betting with thousands of naira. Before he knew it, he was losing up to N50,000 per month.
At a point, he had to go borrowing in order to continue with the game. He said four years down the line he realized that he had a problem. “For a long time, I did not see my addiction in gambling as a problem because I believed that everyone else gambles – why should I not gamble too?,” he confessed. “But at a point it began to dawn on me that I have lost total control by spending more money, without getting returns. When I could no longer continue to get money to bet, my addiction subsided, but that was after I had wasted a lot of money.”