Nigeria has seen a rapid increase in the number of illegal gambling operators and activities due to the high consumer demand for such services. Gambling is legal only within licensed casinos provided by two private gaming companies, Nigeria Casino Operators (NCO) Ltd and Pearl International Hotels. These Casinos are restricted to guests on their premises and family members of staff.
Gambling is not regulated by national legislation but local government ordinances can allow it under certain circumstances and subject to specific controls (iGaming Laws Nigeria, 2015). Public gambling games or lotteries are allowed if they comply with requirements of the Public Gaming Act Cap P15 LFN 1990 (As Amended). The Government has allowed some pubic land-based activities like mobile phone scratch cards, bingo, poker, dominoes, and traditional horse racing without the involvement of computers or electronic devices.
Casinos have been introduced to Nigeria in order to raise money for the government budget. The first casino was built by Pearl International Hotel Ltd close to Abuja Airport after a law allowing commercial casinos was passed in 2005. NCO also built a casino on Victoria Island Lagos at the same time as Pearl International Hotel Ltd had constructed their first casino. These casinos are allowed only for foreign nationals on business trips who fly into Nigeria but cannot enter Nigerian airspace again with any of their winnings (American Gaming Magazine, 2015).
Gambling is also growing online (for instance, n1-bet.ng) where players place bets through unregulated bookies within the country or abroad. There is an increasing online presence of sportsbooks that accept bets made in Nigeria even though there are also some companies that have been registered to operate with the CAMA but do not have any physical offices in the country.
The Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) has recently begun work on a national internet payment platform that will allow residents to transfer money between their bank accounts and make payments for goods and services online including gambling transactions. The National Lottery Commission plans to launch its own online platform for buying lottery tickets but these measures will still require further legislation in order to operate in the country (Premium Times, 2016).
The activities of legal casinos generate large tax revenues for the government but the total gambling industry in Nigeria, including unlicensed casinos and sportsbooks also generates much-needed revenue for the Nigerian economy. There has been a massive increase in both legal and unregulated forms of gambling because of widespread poverty and unemployment rates, which have contributed to increased demand for legalized gambling options. This increase has created many employment opportunities within the country and also for foreign workers.
The number of casinos in Nigeria has increased immensely since their establishment and they benefit from a huge turnover of cash which is estimated by Nigerian Casinos Online to be over $5 billion dollars annually (Casinoonline, 2018). It is expected that this figure will rise as more casinos are planned to be built along with further legislation that will allow them to open up their businesses. There are complaints from some Nigerians about gambling addiction that means they cannot afford to pay their household bills but there is no regulation on this at this stage.
Gambling online can take many forms including internet sports betting, poker or casino games, and lottery pools. These all offer low deposit bonuses and sign-up promotions as well as many cash-out options from winnings. This partially contributes to the rapid growth of online gambling in Nigeria and players can make real money deposits using debit cards, credit cards, or internet bank transfers to gamble responsibly.
In conclusion, there is a serious gambling problem throughout Nigeria and it has been going on for many years through no one really knows the actual numbers as it is underground. The only thing that is clear from studies that have been carried out in recent years is that more needs to be done to protect vulnerable groups from falling into the problems of gambling addiction.
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