Growing the Online Betting Industry in Nigeria

The Rise of Nigerian Sports Betting

Recent numbers suggest that there are roughly 60 million Nigerians engaged in online sports betting, and this number is almost certain to rise as the industry continues to grow. Africa is actually the fastest growing continent when it comes to online betting and its potential is truly staggering. Nigeria is one of the leading countries in this continent and, as it stands, already offers official gambling regulators and multiple betting sites on home soil.

It’s not the complete setup, however, and there is still room for an update on gambling laws to be introduced, as is the case across Africa. Regulatory updates are already well under way in Nigeria, with the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC) being the official regulatory body, as well as the Lagos State Lotteries Board (LSLB) operating on a state level.

Why is Nigeria Experiencing Rapid Growth?

The discussion of the pros and cons of online betting will never be resolved, but it seems that Nigeria has decided to try and find a good balance. Problem gamblers will always be an issue in a poverty-stricken country, but the argument that the betting industry boosts the economy has proven too strong for the government to ignore. With the right regulations and safety measures, the industry can have a positive effect on the country as a whole. But why has Nigeria seen such a rapid increase in active punters over the last few years?

Here we have three fundamental factors that have contributed to the growth:

  1. Nigerians have a deep passion for sports and a special interest in football. The major European leagues are religiously followed and this growing online betting industry is fuelled by a love of football. The country is currently full of betting companies and we’ll look into these a little later on, but this obvious love for sports in general has been the main catalyst for a meteoric rise in online betting.
  2. Not only is Nigeria recognised as one of the fastest growing areas for online betting, it also ranks top for mobile phone usage in Africa. The recent surge in smartphone use has been a complete game-changer for online betting across the world. The ability to grab your phone and make a bet has never been easier, and with roughly 170 million mobile users in Nigeria it doesn’t take much to recognise this massive potential.
  3. Nigeria still registers the majority its population below the poverty line. Unfortunately, this means that people often turn towards betting. For this reason alone, the requirement for strict gambling regulations is something that the government needs to enforce quickly and efficiently. On the flip side, many backers of Nigerian betting companies claim that the industry helps to increase employment rates and tax revenue, which in turn promotes economic expansion across the country.

Betting Options in Nigeria

Bet9ja – The number one Nigerian bookie has been in operation since 2013. Bet9ja is the popular choice for those who want to bet with the local currency, Naira, and the focus on football makes it the best localised service for Nigerians.

Nairabet – Another local online bookie that accepts Naira and is considered the ‘number two’ premier bookie behind Bet9ja is Nairabet. Variety is always useful when looking for value odds so between Nairabet and Bet9ja, Nigerians have a good selection of wagers to choose from.

Betway – Nigerian punters looking for the full mix of betting markets can tap the resources of global powerhouse Betway. The sportsbook covers all the professional football leagues and its additional casino and poker games are always welcome additions for punters.

Data Regulations in Nigeria

One area to which Nigerian governing bodies need to pay attention is the general protection of player data. The state of play in terms of data regulation is a long way off the level of data security being shown in and around Europe. Initial steps have been taken, however, and the release of the NDPR (Nigeria Data Protection Regulation) back in early 2019 goes to show the forward movement that does exist in the country. However, the preliminary release was suspended until October 2019 due to many companies being unable to force their business in line with the new rules.

Fast forward to 2020 and many of these companies are still struggling to comply with the new regulations. A lack of funds to build the required infrastructure, combined with a lack of professionals with enough knowledge to integrate and manage these changes, has been the real struggle. The recent data violation by SureBet247 (in connection with a data breach with a German customer) has caused a stir in the industry. The Nigerian company was found to be breaking the European GDPR rules by failing to keep the data of a European citizen safe and secure.

Although the European’s data was being held in Nigeria, the GDPR rules still apply. This proves that the strict rules of the European laws are far-reaching, moving beyond the borders of Europe. It also shows that Nigeran companies still have a long way to go to reach the levels set by not only their local NDPR rules, but also the far stricter and closely monitored European GDPR regulations as well.

Payment Methods & Apps in Nigeria

Marketing in Nigeria, and the online services available to Nigerians, is another area in which the rules and regulations need to be closely examined. The use of feature phones and USSD codes have been around for a few years now, andthis quick payment method allows punters to place bets without having access to the internet. All it requires is a basic mobile phone. The clear lack of security in this type of payment method is a huge concern for governing bodies, but it does help users engage in their hobby without the need for constant internet access. However, the fact that there is no registration required for the use of this USSD online betting payment option does open the method up to fraudulent behaviour and underage gambling.

Recent mobile app launches within the sector include something called TrueCaller, a Swedish-based phone number ID app. The extent to which this app has managed to collect an unnecessary amount of data on Nigerians has been seriously questioned in the last year. It has been made clear that extensive data from customers’ devices has been taken in order to fill TrueCaller’s ever-expanding database, including names and numbers from the contact list of a user’s device. Worryingly, this has then been used to leverage mobile advertising and blocking devices, as well as forcing users to watch various ads each time they end a call.

The main issue here is the fact that the details of many Nigerians have been published on the TrueCaller database without them actually signing up to the app. It’s a clear breach of human privacy rights, and another piece of evidence that Nigerian laws need to sharpen up and that the country needs to keep a closer eye on the apps and services being offered to its people.