Betting and gambling in Nigeria
Betting and gambling in Nigeria is becoming alarming especially among the youths even under (18) who are supposed to engage in meaningful and productive ventures. The Hope correspondent, Kayode Olabanji, went to town to speak with legal practitioners on the development.
Mr Gani Ashiru, an Ikare-based legal practitioner
In Nigeria of today, there is no law which specifically banned or outlawed sport betting. There is a saying in constitutional law, ‘whatever is not specifically prohibited, is allowed.’ I will say it is allowed.
However, religiously, it is illegal. It is called ‘game of chance’.
Since the constitution enjoin our legislatures to make law for good governance and morality, I suggest there should be a law curbing sport betting just as we have anti gay law.
Mr Ademola Adewumi, an Akure-based legal practitioner.
Sport betting is legal. However, not all forms of gambling is legal. There are laws regulating their activities.
The Lagos State Lottery Board is responsible for regulating sport shops, printed lotteries, and Casino games in the state of Lagos.
We also have the National Lottery Regulatory Commission which regulates lottery operation for all Nigeria and was established by the National Lottery Act of 2005.
So far they act within the bound of the law, it is a normal activities as nobody is forced into betting. It is a choice.
Mr Ikujuni Ademola, an Akure-based legal practitioner.
Nigeria’s Criminal Code Act references and addresses gambling in Nigeria in chapter 22, where it is determined that sports betting, racing, lotteries, pools and certain ‘skill-based’ land casino games such as roulette, blackjack and video slot and progressive slots machines are allowed in Nigeria, while ‘non skill-based’ games are not allowed.
Under the terms of the Criminal Code Act, it is illegal for anyone in Nigeria to offer unlawful or illegal games or gambling activities at any unlicensed venue or property. If caught, the facilitator of unlawful gaming can be jailed for up to two years as well as subject to a N1000 fine.
It is pertinent to note that all sport bettings are gamble and as the word implies, “gambling” has a negative connotation. These days, Nigerians, particularly the youths see betting(sport) as an opportunity to explore purposefully for making quick money neglecting the danger attached to the rules. This could be a serious danger to the youths and Nigeria economy as a whole as most youths see betting as a job.
It will, however, be dangerous to Nigeria where they are frustrated by not winning as expected because they will be forced into committing heinous crimes.
Mr Temitope Coker, an Akure-based legal practitioner.
Sports betting in Nigeria is not illegal. There are laws and regulations of different states of the federation that provide for sports betting. That is why you see most states of the federation having in place boards for polls and betting.
However, online betting or gambling has no place in our legal system. But bear in mind that whatever that is not outrightly prohibited cannot be said to be illegal. But morally speaking, betting/gambling is a bad character which should not in any way be encouraged. But at the same time, we should all appreciate the fact that morality and legality are two different things as moral obligation is not the same thing as legal obligation.
The trend of betting and gambling in Nigeria is capable of rendering a generation of people useless. And as a result, this calls for urgent legislation in the country to get it proscribed.
Mr Kehinde Aladedutire, an Akure-based legal practitioner
As far as sports betting is concerned, it is a kind of lottery which has not been declared illegal by Lottery Act. The regulator in Nigeria is National Lottery Regulatory Commission.
It is a kind of game which is legal. The Criminal Code also regulates lottery and it is when the operators do not comply with the licence issued by the government or contravenes same that their actions become illegal.
A person below the age of 18 years is not also permitted in law to engage in lottery.
Regarding the rate of betting, if there is no regulation forbidding same or setting a limit, it won’t be illegal. There could only be an offence if same is contained in a written law.
Like other kind of gambling, sports betting may encourage laziness and pilfering. Many lives have been ruined as a result of pool betting in Nigeria. And once you formed that habit and it takes root, it may be difficult to disengage from it. It is what we work for, that lasts, and not what luck just brings your way.
Many of our teeming youths now engage in it, which is not good for us. Some people would, however, say it is fetching them something for now, since the government is not providing jobs for them.
In the long run, they would know it is better to find a productive venture to spend their little money on than sport betting, because it is a habit they may not be able to detach themselves from for a long time to come.
Mr Olaleye Steve Akintububo, an Akure-based Legal Practitioner
Most forms of betting and gambling are illegal in Nigeria under Chapter 22 of the Criminal Code.
There are few exceptions such as: National Lottery and Pool Betting run by states backed laws. It is a truism that the rate at which Nigerians engage in sports betting and other forms of gambling is not only alarming but disturbing.
There are Ponzi schemes here are there. There are weekly gambling outfits popularly known as “Baba Ijebus”. Pool bettings are not left out.
In my humble opinion, the high rate of sport betting, gambling and Ponzi schemes in Nigeria is a direct reflection of our societal ills. The norm amongst Nigerians particularly the youths nowadays is “get-rich-quick” syndrome.
So, in an attempt to be rich overnight, many Nigerians have taken to criminality and illegality in their hot pursuit of ill-gotten wealth. These illegalities, are not limited to the subject matter of our discourse here.
This trend is most unfortunate because an old adage says, “not all that glitter is gold”. And similarly nothing good comes easy.
Nigerians of nowadays have seen pool betting, Ponzi schemes and the likes as short cuts to wealth. They are, therefore, not ready to work. The value and virtue of hard work has been thrown overboard. And this is affecting our people negatively.
Millions of naira that ought to be channelled towards fruitful investments are going down the drain on daily basis on the ground of sport betting and the likes. It will be recalled that a couple of years ago, a popular Ponzi scheme known as MMM swindled gullible Nigerians, including those who claim to be well educated of several billions of naira. These are not good omen for our economy. People should imbibe the value of hardwork.
I am appealing to the government to beam it’s searchlight on legal frameworks that are regularising sport betting and the likes in Nigeria, in order to protect gullible Nigerians from unscrupulous elements parading themselves as promoters of these majorly illegal outfits.