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The Rise and Rise of Sports Betting

Ever heard the line “football is worth more when there is money on it?” Well, this is a line so many Nigerians are starting to believe and act upon. Before now, pool staking and betting was the most popular form of gambling in the country that have anything to do with sports; it is popular in most Nigerian cities and countryside, and has survived for a number of decades. Today, full-fledged sports gaming is gaining momentum in the country through the popularity of sports betting sites. Following the ever growing presence of these betting sites and centres, and with many gambling firms now opening their doors, sport fanatics are taking their passion to another level, as many soccer lovers have realized that the match scores they predict for fun could actually fetch them some bucks.

Unlike the regular Australian or English season pools, where gamblers have to “perm” (abbreviation of permutation) three from four numbers to secure the winning number through football forecasting, this new trend gives players the option of choosing among the various games like basketball, tennis, snooker, baseball and cricket. However, since many show more interest in soccer, the betting sites provide them the opportunity to bet on all the leagues, particularly the popular European leagues, including the English Premier League (EPL), Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A, as well as the FIFA World Cup and Nigerian Premier League.

As a football lover, Gbenga Olaniyi has heard so much about various online betting websites, so he decided to try his luck with the nearest 9jabet centre close to him. For someone who was used to predicting soccer matches for free, Olaniyi staked N200 to predict the full-time score in a Spanish La Liga game. His prediction came true after the 90 minutes’ match and he became N15, 000 richer. Since then, he has embraced sport betting with vigour.

Without exaggeration, the number of websites and centres offering sports betting is growing by the day. Some of them are Nairabet.com, goldenbetsng.com, mybet.com.ng, nairastake.com, footballpoolsxtra.com, Ladbrokes.com, 888sport.com/bet. Moreover, with the Internet playing a major role in the accessibility of this betting game to the populace, many of the companies also have registered agents that manage centres, where people without internet access can play the game in safety and comfort.

These companies registered in Nigeria, with some of them having links to international sports betting sites, claim that their aim is to provide football betting services to registered customers who must be 18 years and above. And, believe it or not, they are increasingly growing their customer base by the day.

The question now for many people is: how is it done and how can one make a sure bet? To place a bet which starts from N50 upwards, one has to either be a cash or online customer. Cash customers are those who choose to play through agents and the transactions will be strictly with the agents at the betting centres. The agents can accept bets with deposits, pre-loaded cash cards and Interswitch cards. Markets for selling bets are open 24 hours of the day and seven days a week. The agents will also be responsible for redeeming tickets and paying the winning customers. The online customers on the other hand play via the internet platform. Payments and winnings are also made and claimed via online transactions. For the agents, profits come through commissions on every game played in their centres each week, and they could at times get as much as N50, 000 to N60, 000 in a week.

To play, each team is assigned different odds, which is what the players stake their bet on. Players, however, have up to the kick-off time to bet their odds, either on the final score, draw, win, first to score, time of score and mode of score among others. For each player, the amount to be won is determined by the accuracy of the prediction and the amount staked on the odds, since the winner is usually determined by multiplying the odds and the amount. The “Odd” is the percentage given to every game in relation to its strength. They are however always in decimal forms like 1.00, 2.50 or 1.65.

It should, however, be noted that one needs to know the teams well before staking his or her money on them, so it would not turn out to be a waste of resources. You just don’t go out there and stake when you do not know the strength of the team you are rooting for. It is also advisable to look at the competing teams and examine their strengths and weaknesses in their last matches. From this, you can make your decision so you don’t lose. This was the case of Segun Olakitan, who was not an ardent fan of a club, but staked his bet based on what he heard people say. The team he bet on lost, so he lost his money too. The only consolation, according to him, was that he did not stake more than N500. “If I had bet with a lot of money, I would have been devastated,” he said.

Muyiwa Akande, an ardent lover and follower of sports, who works with a PR Agency in Lagos-Nigeria, believes that the fact that Nigeria is a football loving nation is part of what is fueling the growth of this trend, noting that it is a good development since the fans are also getting a way of making money from their passion. Speaking about the risks attached to the activity, Akande said that everything in life has some elements of risks attached to it. “Anything can happen; even businesses can collapse. So one cannot be too sure of anything,” he pointed out. He however advised people who wish to place bets to be well versed in whatever type of bet they want to place, in order to minimize the level of risk.

By Folake Olagunju

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