Is Sports Betting Legal in Nigeria?

June 21, 2022
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Sports betting, just like all gambling activities, can be quite sensitive to regulation. If left uncontrolled, the losses could be massive- from bookies losing their stakes and winnings to serious gambling addiction. We take a look at the legality of sports betting in Nigeria, the law regarding the same, and the gaps that need to be filled.

Legislations on sports betting in Nigeria

Nigeria, one of the biggest economies in Africa and with the highest population boasts of a robust betting following. There are major legislations that have made sports betting legal in Nigeria. The National Lottery Act of 2005 is the most recent legislation that was specifically passed to control and regulate the betting affairs in Nigeria.

The National Lottery Act of 2005 provides for The National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC) which is the body mandated to regulate all the gaming activities in the country. The commission is further mandated to protect the interest of all the players in the gambling industry, in addition to ensuring transparency within the sector.

It is important to note that the commission issues three types of licenses- Promotional Permit, Lottery licenses, and Sports Betting License (Online and Offline). The licenses cover betting, bingo, online casino, lotteries, fantasy sports, and online poker.

The Act prohibits gambling to persons below the age of 18, provides for the requirements that a company needs to have to be legally allowed to operate in Nigeria, and also the mandate of the Commission.

Other State Licenses legalizing Betting

Federal states like Lagos and Oyo are some of the States that have enacted specific pieces of legislation that cater to the specific needs of their particular population. Lagos has the Lagos State Lottery Law of 2004, which specifically regulates betting in Lagos.

There have been tremendous calls to regulate the industry even more. For instance, the Gaming Machines Act of 1977 barred the ownership, importation, and operation of gaming machines within Nigeria by the government. Later, the Criminal Code of 1990 went ahead to classify the legal and illegal gaming activities that would be allowed in the country.

Overview of current requirements for sports betting in Nigeria

We now look at a general overview of the gaming laws in Nigeria that make it a legal and safe activity.

To begin with, all companies or entities that wish to conduct betting business in Nigeria must be incorporated under the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). This leaves very little room for the dubious foreign companies that tend to set shop and disappear with the wagers of bookies.

Further, and even after acquiring a license, the individual states have a Lottery Board that tends to monitor and follow up on the licensed companies’ activities, which further makes gambling secure.

Betting companies have also been put on high alert, before being awarded the licenses. For instance, the application and processing fee to be considered for a license is a whooping N2 million which is non-refundable. The names and profiles of the directors and other key staff of the company are scrutinized deeply to establish the authenticity of the information provided.

The proposed activities of the bookmaker must also be pretty straight and acceptable to the regulator. The mode of distribution and the areas of interest must be precisely within the precincts and conventional channels. To cap it all, a detailed financial framework must be presented, with evidence of a 5-year projection as a going concern.

From the foregoing, it is clear that the bar for obtaining the operating license is a long and very thorough one- but in essence, it is meant to protect the bookies who wish to stake their money. Additionally, responsible betting is encouraged by the regulator who defines the legal age for gambling and closely monitors the content that is used to entice gamblers.

To conclude, sports betting is legal, and it has evolved, although there are loopholes that have been occasioned by the evolution of technology in recent days. It would be interesting to see how fast the regulator would continue to update the legal framework to match and catch up with the technological advances!

Dipo Olowookere

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan.

Mr Olowookere can be reached via [email protected]

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