When will sport betting centres enforce age restrictions?

by Tosin Adesina

In the late 60s and early 70s, casinos were the order of the day especially in Lagos and other urban centres of Nigeria. Some persons made good cash off it while others still live to tell the tale of their misadventures.

In the early 2000s, a new entrant came into the pool and lottery industry known as sport betting. Sports betting according to Wikipedia is the activity of predicting sports results and placing a wager on the outcome. It however, cuts across all sports, from football to auto racing, boxing and of late President Buhari made the list.

However here in Nigeria, football is the most prominent sports people place their bets on. As a sport, football has a cult following worldwide and Nigeria is not left out of the frenzy. The English Premiership with teams like Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, among others has helped in the rise of the game. The huge followership has also been a key factor in sport betting.

Hardly will you find a Nigerian that is not an admirer of any of these English clubs even if the individual is not a football fan. Sport betting is not a crime as the laws of Nigeria is concerned and the government is regulating the industry through the National Lottery Commission which is domesticated in all states of the federation with few exceptions.

Fans of these clubs are expected to stake for or against a team of their choice with a token as low as 100 Naira and even thousands depending on one’s capacity. At the end of the match, one is rewarded based on the odds and awarded his or her earnings.

The industry has created jobs for thousands of Nigerians. This is a good thing but it needs proper monitoring before it breeds a new set of social deviants.

The spate at which under age children participate in sport betting is alarming. Many of them are seen hanging around the centres and some are even seen eith the betting tickets even while going to school. Some have the mobile apps of the company’s on their phones and now spend the better part of their day predicting the odds.

The inability of sport betting centres to enforce the age limit produces more harm than good as some of these minors may engage in theft in our to make quick money through prediction. If left unchecked, sports betting may end up being a hydra-headed monster.

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