As the highest populated country on the African continent, Nigeria has a very young population with over 90% of its population being 50 years of age or younger.
These are the primary ages for the act of gambling to be the most popular, and Nigeria is no exception to these statistics. But what role do betting and gambling play for Nigerians?
Nigeria has access to many forms of betting and gambling, including sports betting, land-based casinos, and lotteries that are completely legal. Games of chance like roulette, dice games, and card games deemed to take no special skill, are outlawed. Online gambling and online casinos are currently not regulated by any laws in Nigeria.
So now that we know what is and isn’t allowed when it comes to betting and gambling in Nigeria, let’s dive a little deeper into the issue.
History of Gambling
Gambling has always been a part of Nigerian culture but has had mixed reviews in how it is perceived by the public. At different times throughout Nigeria’s history, gambling has been seen as completely antisocial when churches were the biggest influence on society to today being seen as a leisure activity that is acceptable and widely participated in.
In the late 1990s, the government legalized gambling and put laws on the books for the first time in an attempt to generate more tax revenues, which ultimately made gambling more socially acceptable. But illegal gambling still plays a very large role in Nigeria today, even with socially acceptable laws on the books.
The legal gambling age in Nigeria is set at 18 as it is in most other countries around the world. But studies have shown that about 57% of school-aged children say that they have gambled at some point in their lives. They also report that they often have easy access to places of gambling.
Due to the early start of gambling in many children’s lives, Nigeria has developed a large-scale gambling problem with no real resolution in sight.
With widespread legal and illegal gambling in Nigeria, it has quickly become a vice that could spell big trouble in the future if not corrected. Gambling addiction can often lead to other issues and risky behaviors. The biggest problem with gambling addiction right now in Nigeria is not that it is happening, gambling addiction happens globally. The biggest issue is the lack of preventative and treatment services that are available to Nigerians.
Preventative and treatment options are basically non-existent in Nigeria and there seems to be no headway happening. But studies and scholars show that preventative treatment and educating the youth about the woes of gambling addiction can have a profound impact.
The Path Forward
The best path forward for Nigerians is to educate themselves about good gambling practices and how to regulate their addiction. Impulse control can be difficult, especially for a very young population with unhindered access to gambling. But education and knowledge lead the way in attempting to push off the first gambling experience.
By preventing the first gambling experience until later in life when the brain is more developed and cognitive brain function can process the ideas of addiction. Impulse control is something that is learned as the brain develops and children mature, usually peaking in the early to mid-20s. So early education and preventative measures are especially important to combating the rising gambling problem in Nigeria.
Gambling responsibly is a skill that can be developed. Learn the games well in advance and place safe bets that are comfortable and not overly risky. Set limits and boundaries that are responsible where losing will not change your way of life or put you in a dire position.
Gambling should be about having fun and not being overly stressful to the bettor. Do not chase losses thinking that you can quickly recoup your money. This is how many get themselves in trouble. One large losing bet leads to other, poorly thought out bets that become large losses, and ultimately, you end up digging yourself into a hole that is beyond getting back from.
Gamble for your enjoyment, but please gamble responsibly and safely at all times.