Sport betting among Nigerian youths
By Babatunde Olorunleke
Talking about young people, the human capital experts have described the stage as a moment of the storm, a stage in the developmental growth where young adults would want to explore and express self, as well as want to know more about the world.
This uncensored urge naturally comes with an inherent challenge which adversely affects youths education and promotes social vices such as; premarital sexual escapades, instant gratification, the proliferation of fake news and erosion of societal values.
But looking at recent commentaries, it’s no more an overstatement that our effort to create a more humane nation has recently witnessed a setback with the advent of sports betting on our shores.
The rate at which the Nigerian youth are embracing betting as a source of income and the number of betting companies and shops that open in all corners of streets is quite alarming.
I am afraid that if something urgent is not done to curb the unwanted development, then in no time we will have virtually all the young people walking around with white long betting tickets.
I am fully aware that even the old are involved in this, but I am more disturbed when I see youths engage in this act because they are supposed to be positioning themselves to take over the economy and leadership of this country.
But instead, they are less concerned with the happenings in the country and most times are after an easy way of making money.
Due to the high level of unemployment, majority of the unemployed even the employed have resorted to betting of all kinds just to make ends meet.
Sport betting as a form of lottery or game of chance is neither restricted to a particular age nor sex but fueled by the grinding poverty and starvation with which our country is currently afflicted.
In this context, there is nothing essentially wrong with sports betting, if well regulated, but looking at the number of minds so far corrupted, and destinies destroyed by this game, it becomes unfortunately true that like a turbulent ocean beating great cliffs into fragments of rocks, so has sport betting submerged our countrysides bringing social, moral, cultural and economy devastation upon youths with their future now hanging in the balance.
In a recent report by News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), about 60 million Nigerians between the ages 18 and 40 years may be spending up to N1.8 million on sport betting daily.
The report stated that age group invest an average of N3,000 on sports sweep stake daily.
A betting analyst, Adeniyi Moses said sport betting may be risky but it is also rewarding.
Moses said about 60 million Nigerians place bets on different matches daily across the country. He said most unemployed youths have taken to betting online and in other media to make a living.
According to him, these people stake an average of N3000 on betting everyday.
With betting, youths now have to choose which football betting agencies they prefer.
Some of online soccer betting websites include Nairabet, 1960bet, Bet9ja, Surebet247, Merrybet and Betcolony which are modern media for soccer sweep stake which replace the old soccer pool.
Only that these new bet agencies just added ideas, concepts and technology, now people can now become millionaires from the comfort of their homes, placing bets online.
But in reality, one personal reason which I could use to testify that football betting has been to the disadvantage of our society is that it is gradually becoming another crime – generating avenue.
I know many people would not agree with this opinion, but I can justify it with claims by some gamblers.
Viewing center owner in Akure, Mr Bimbo Omole told The Hope in an interview that some people bet between N2,000 and N10,000, depending on how financially bouyant an individual is.
He said some people denied themselves of food after spending all they had on a bet, but when they win, they use the money to solve problems they are facing, if they lose, they lose everything. Now, where would the loser get money to play again?
An agent of Nairabet, Mr. Odunayo Sanjo, said about 200 to 300 youths visit his office to bet on English league daily.
According to him, a betting company can generate up to N20 million monthly and spend N5 million to N7 million to pay winners. How many of the gamblers win daily?
A representative of another betting company bet9ja tried to justify the business, saying betting agencies have employed thousands youths in Akure alone.
He said that betting outlets are usually filled with young people. He explained that most people spend as much as N10,000 for their daily stakes with some of them winning and others losing, but all of them returning the next day for another betting.
For a jobless youth who did not win, stealing becomes the next option to get money to play the following day.
The fact remains that football betting has never helped the older generation and will never be of help to the present generation.
In the word of a legal practitioner, Mr. Sanmi Ikujemisi, “Football betting is now a cankerworm that is eating deep in the fabric of our society.” He said it has tremendously promoted laziness among youths and killed many dreams.
He stressed further by saying the bet promotes unwillingness to work and dormancy among the youth, is contributing to erosion of our values and education.
He averred that parents must play their role in orientating their children against the modern day gambling.
In my view, this is a clear socio-economic problem that we collectively as a nation will have to solve as the future strength of our nation depends on these young people.
To get started, apart from coming up with more regulatory framework, government at all levels federal, state and local government must take politics out of our education and concentrate on empowering the youths gainfully engaged as well as prepare the youths for jobs of the future.
In addition to the above, skills acquisition to these youths and financial empowerment to these trained and actively regulating the business activities of this lottery outfits will be another step taken in the right direction by the government.
Finally, let every youth in the words of Mahatma Gandhi develop a habit of accounting for everything that comes into, and goes out of, his/her pocket and be sure he is the gainer at the end.