The first thing that comes to the mind of an average Nigerian when you mention ‘sports betting’ is Football, which is arguably the most popular and well-paying sport in the country. However, people bet on other sports like tennis, basketball, boxing and dog race to mention just a few. With millions of fans willing to part with their hard-earned cash just to support their favourite teams, it’s no wonder why the Sports betting industry is booming and will be here for a long time. But the question here is- Is sport betting legal in Nigeria?
The answer is yes. Sports betting is recognized by the law in Nigeria and the activities of sport betting sites are regulated by two bodies which are the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC) and the Lagos State Lottery Board (LSLB).
These two bodies have the responsibility of critically examining betting companies to ensure that they are secure, reliable and financially stable before licences can be issued to them.
So before you place that bet, make sure to check that the betting site has the proper licence so you don’t lose your money.
But first, what is Sports Betting?
Sports betting like the name implies simply means betting on the outcome of a sports game. Sports betting is a means of making cool cash based on your prediction of a match between two teams. This means you have to have basic knowledge about whatever sport it is you want to bet on and also have an idea of how sports betting works generally.
More recently, owing to advancements in technology online betting sites have gained popularity with their user-friendly interface. To place a bet you can just walk into any betting shop, a cashier will take your money, book your game and give you a slip in return which you’ll need to collect your win. Or on the other hand, you can just log onto their website from the comfort of your home, create an account, fund it and place your bet.
Bets can be made on any part of the game. For instance, in a football match between PSG and Liverpool, you can bet on either of the teams to win the game full time or half time. You can bet on both teams to draw, or no goals at all. You can even bet on a certain player to score a hat trick. Some sites even allow customers who bet on different game combinations to cash out a part of their wins when the game is going against their predictions, saving them extra losses. The betting options are endless.
If you want to start trying your luck on sports betting, there are a few terms you should familiarise yourself with
Stake, Odds, Payout.
A stake is a term that refers to the money you’re willing to part with to place a bet. For most betting sites, you can stake as low as N100 to win over a million naira. This is where greed comes in, majority of people who bet would want to stake very low and win big but we all know the chances of that happening is like one in ten thousand tries.
Knowing the odds of a game is very vital when choosing a team to bet on. Odds are used to calculate the amount of money you’re likely to win depending on what your stake in the game is. In other words, when the odds are high, the more you stand to win depending on your stake and vice versa. For example in a tennis match between Serena Williams and Simona Halep, the odds could be 1.70 and 2.30 respectively. This implies that a bet on Serena to win with 1.70 odd will earn you less money and a bet on Simona to win with 2:30 odd equals more money. There’s also a case of ‘even money’ bet expressed as 2.00 where the money you stake is equivalent to what you win. Here, both teams stand an equal chance of winning or losing. Odds also show the possibility of a particular prediction happening. It’s a general rule, if a team has a better chance of winning a game, the odds for that team will be lesser and vice versa. Looking at the previous example, You’d agree with me that Serena is a better player and stands a better chance of winning the match, hence she’ll get a lower odd than Simona. Bookmakers(betting sites) do this to balance the number of bets placed on the respective teams and these odds varies from one betting site to another.
Your payout is simply the money you win. This is affected by how much you stake and the odds of the game. You can increase your payout by placing multiple bets and getting accumulated bonuses. And in case you lose one game, some sites offer the option to cash out your other wins or refund your stake.
Now that we’ve gotten ourselves acquainted with basic betting knowledge, this brings us to our next question.
Are all sports betting sites legal in Nigeria?
Just because a betting company is up and running does not mean it has the legal backing to operate in the country. The only sites that are recognised by Nigerian law and deemed suitable for customers to play on are those registered and licensed by the National Lottery Regulatory Commission. Registered bookmakers
Online Gambling Laws in Nigeria
In the last two decades, there has been a significant rise in the number of online gambling companies set up to cater to the growing demands of sports fans across the country. There are cases of defrauding customers by betting companies failing to pay up huge amounts won by players.
As a result, several laws had to be put in place to regulate the activities of these sports betting sites. These laws are the National Lottery Regulations 2007 (Amended), the Lagos State Lottery Law 2004 and other states’ laws. These laws and regulations are there for two reasons, firstly to provide security to Nigerian players, allowing them to palace their bets with safe and reputable betting sites and secondly, for proper recording and collection of gambling taxes from these companies.
National Lottery Regulatory Commission
Through the National Lottery Act of 2005, the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC) came into being and it was saddled with the responsibility of regulating the affairs of lottery businesses, checkmating and promoting transparency and protecting the interest of players and the general public.
The NLRC has its headquarters in Abuja with other branch offices in 15 other states. The commission issues three different licences- lottery license, sports betting license (offline and online) and promotional permit.
To get the sports betting license, the company must meet the following mandatory requirements stipulated by the NLRC
- Payment of 2,000,000 Naira application and processing fee which is non-refundable
- Minimum share capital of 30,000,000 Naira
- Complete information of the director and other important staff
- Proof of registered domain name
- Information on security systems such as the type of servers, firewalls, routers, clouds and other security features
- Details of games to be played e.g virtual games, live betting etc
These requirements are just a few of the long lists and processes that sport betting companies need to undergo to get licenced.
Lagos State Lottery Board
The Lagos State Lottery Board was established by the 2004 law which was later amended in 2008. The Board is in charge of overseeing all lottery operations, sports betting, casino games, pool betting and other gaming activities within Lagos State.
This implies that any sports betting company that wishes to operate in Nigeria and is considering the option of running its operations in Lagos State but acquire a licence from the Lagos State Lottery Board, irrespective of whether they have been licensed by the National Lottery Regulatory Commission. This also applies to other states in the country, some states have their separate lottery board and license and in states without one, prospective betting companies are required to collect a permit from the Internal Board of Revenue for the state.
The following conditions must be met by betting companies who want to obtain the Lagos State Lottery Permit
- Letter of Application
- Payment of application fee of 500,000 Naira which is non-refundable
- Proof of Incorporation (CAC documents showing details of the director, other staff and company address, memorandum and articles of association)
- Minimum share capital of 20,000,000 Naira
- Detailed business plan covering all financial, operational and security systems.
Legal Betting Sites in Nigeria
If you’ve stayed with me till this point, I’m sure I answered your questions. Sports betting is legal in Nigeria and you can go ahead and start making easy money betting on your favourite sport!
But before you do, here’s a list of legal betting sites with licences from both the National Lottery Regulatory Commission and the Lagos State Lottery Board