In Nigeria's commercial nerve centre, shanty wooden constructions using several benches, Lagos, a tv along with a satellite dish are common sight. These places, popularly called 'viewing centres', offer a bulk of the football-mad population in the city the opportunity to watch the European football league matches, generally for less than a dollar. As the popularity of those matches grew in the early 2000s, so did the existence of those seeing centers.
With enthusiastic fans, these places are usually packed on match-days athletic replica jerseys and rooting for their favourite teams but more recently, fans might be noticed by a keen observer at seeing centres - a 'ticket'. Tickets are printed copies of chosen games on which wagers are placed and since late 2012, they've become more prominent in the Nigerian football landscape as sport gambling has become highly popular. Despite the notion that sport gambling kicked off in Nigeria just lately, the earliest sport betting firms recorded their first entry into the marketplace in 2007.
Typically, sport betting involves punters forecasting the results of matches and getting their wagers to correspond with all the stakes. The bets are rewarded with winnings that were stipulated in the event the forecasts are correct. In Nigeria, where there are millions of amazingly passionate soccer fans, sport gambling has located its dwelling that was proverbial.
Finally, fans began to research the actual possibility of making money from these games played with thousands of miles away but also not just seeing football. For enthusiasts who watch football as a leisurely pastime, the ability to earn money out of it has presented an opportunity too good to pass up.
Cash is the name of the game
Generally, fans are used to hosting heated discussions on the monstrous weekly wages of their favourite footballers but that dialog on its head has turned. Soccer buffs now discuss their earnings from bets as the sport has turned into a viable revenue stream. Every other weekend, gambling businesses announce enormous winnings from stakes placed with amounts as low as N100 (50 cents)
Of raking in millions from meagre sums, the possibility is enough motivation for punters all over the country to gamble on a daily basis and because of this, gaming extremely notable numbers are recorded by companies. Ademola Adebajo, CEO of Stakersden, a leading gaming company in Lagos, endeavors that stakes that are daily run into billions of Naira.
Punters in the country are currently seeing this as a way to obtain daily bread and it's also not unusual to see folks appropriating a specific sum for betting daily," Adebajo said.
Despite Nigeria's high levels of poverty and joblessness, punters cut across various demographics regardless of earning powers.
In recent years, as Nigeria has become a booming market, sports betting firms have sought to latch on and get market share to various amounts of success.
The default option business model sees the companies set up shop in a central working office while trying to set up a broad network of affiliate brokers who start mortar and brick stores where customers can come into place bets. For their part in the commercial chain, agents as they're formally known, or affiliate shop owners, earn commissions on the stakes put in their stores. Sports betting businesses also run an internet business model manipulating the net penetration in Nigeria, while the offline element booms.
Last month, the Nigerian Communications Commission declared that internet users in the nation had reached 97 million. With over half of the united states online, betting companies recognize the requirement to set up workable on-line operations. For this purpose, websites are set up for punters to open personal accounts where they conduct transactions ranging from putting wagers, depositing funds into an online wallet and transferring winnings got from wagers to their own bank accounts. While some firms research both models harshly, others like NairaBet simply elect to stay mainly online models thereby sidestepping the financial and logistical consequences of setting up and running a large scale offline version.
The initial step however, is buying a gambling permit for an annual price of N10 million ($50,000) from regulators. Even though the price of kick-starting operations is high, gambling businesses require deep pockets to pay out winnings from punters which can sometimes encounter numerous millions in one weekend.
In reality, the inability to pay up promptly after huge wins has been known to cause serious humiliation for gambling firms and on some events, eventual close. Last May, on a weekend that saw few upsets and many predicted results clicking, punters on Bet9ja
, the market leader in the sport wagering space were said to have garnered up to N700 million ($3.5m) in winning wagers. To its credit, Bet9ja
paid quickly- a feat that can't be matched by some other companies. Yet, weekends like those are few and far between and more often than not, the betting firms make record enviable amounts and healthy profits.
Clearly, the company landscape is changing fast as betting businesses compete aggressively for market share. Based on Adebajo of Stakersden, betting businesses with actual targets of domination cannot play small. Firms like Bet9ja have come into the market to redefine how sport betting must be performed and every operator is responding to the developments," he said. "The business landscape has went from attempting to open a corner shop someplace and offer gambling services to folks. New entrants will need significant startup capital to measure up."
The requirement for innovation has found firms seek means to create betting easier and less prohibitive for punters as live telephone wagering services are started.
Adebajo says the next phase of evolution will likely be fuelled by foreign investment, while some think the Nigerian market is already saturated and can not evolve. "Foreign companies happen to be licensed to run here and more are expecting to procure licenses or to partner with local operators. So in the next FIVE years, we expect to view foreign businesses taking a chunk of the shareholding of a few of these companies to compete."
An improbable solution
Given the high unemployment figures in Nigeria, the development of jobs from the private sector is important and in this regard, the effect of sport wagering has not been superficial. While other focus on optimizing their reach regionally, the industry has generated thousands of jobs directly and indirectly, with national operations running. A store and graduate owner in Ikorodu, Joseph Chukwu, says sport gambling really has been a lifesaver. "There aren't any occupations in the united states even for qualified graduates," he said. Initially while something larger came along, I thought of it as something to do but now I'm focusing on building a chain of shops and being a mogul of varieties. It might seem crazy but I've gone from looking for employment to actually building a company."
Adebajo believes the employment issues and high rate of poverty ensures that the opportunity to make money from sports can hardly be discounted. "Majority of Nigerians live below the poverty line and any action that may legitimately turn a little bit of money into substantial sums will always be appealing." The sentiments of Adebajo are backed by the many instances when Nigerians have fallen victim to fraudulent multi-level marketing and pyramid schemes. Given the legality of sport gambling, its appeal is ostensible.
In under a decade, the sport betting business become not only an income source for a lot of Nigerian punters but also large job creation vehicle and has grown vastly. Website URL: