On paper, Nigeria should be one of the biggest hotspots for online casinos in Africa.
The country is one of the richest in the continent and has a booming economy. Most important of all, Nigerians are very fun-loving people who do love to gamble.
But in comparison to nations in other parts of the world like the USA and Europe, online gambling has seen relatively less growth in the past.
Don’t get us wrong, plenty of Nigerians do like to use online casinos on a regular basis. But the number of local casinos is on the lower side, and the money involved is also a pittance compared to other nations with online gambling.
However, recent developments indicate that change is in the air. Things are moving hard and fast in the Nigerian iGaming scene. Read until the end of this article to get up to speed about everything that is happening to online casino gaming in Nigeria.
The current state of iGaming in Nigeria
Unlike many other nations in Africa, Nigeria does have a regulated gambling industry. This is not surprising as Nigerians love to gamble, and if the government did not allow it, they would still do it anyway!
The key thing about gambling in Nigeria is the way they have regulated offline casinos – there are only three active casinos in the country – two in Lagos and one in Abuja. So access to casino gaming, though available, is not easy for everyone since the country is quite large.
On top of that, the law does not allow games of chance, like dice and roulette. Fans of these fun games have to head online instead. And the best aspect of online gaming is that it is not declared as an unlawful activity.
Nigerians can and do gamble at online casinos with relative ease and zero fear of prosecution. Since there are no specific laws banning or legalizing online gambling, casino businesses can also operate with more freedom than in other countries where all forms of gambling are illegal.
Offshore companies lead the charge
In many countries like the USA where online gambling is/was illegal, offshore casinos offered the best igaming experience to players. The same is also true in Nigeria. Since local police cannot do much against casinos based in Europe and the Caribbean, these are thriving with their Nigeria-friendly portals.
The most popular offshore online casinos for Nigerians include Betway, Betsson, 888sport, Betvictor, and Casino.com, just to name a few. They offer everything from slots, poker, table games (including roulette and other games of chance) and sports betting.
Many foreign companies are drawn to Africa because of the massive potential for iGaming in the continent as a whole. Sites like Betway Africa are popular not only in Nigeria but also South Africa as they entice players with no deposit offers and special promotions which usually involve the EPL.
In fact, the Nigerian iGaming sector has much to learn from its South African counterpart. Though both countries have legal gambling, the South African market is worth billions (as opposed to close to a hundred million in Nigeria).
The local online startup scene for iGaming
As we already noted, casino gaming is legal but rather restricted in Nigeria. Local online casino operators have been around since 2013, but they have suffered difficulties due to the lack of proper laws on online gambling.
While the lack of laws makes it easier for Nigerian players to head online and play where they please, it can be much harder for businesses since they have to play by the rules and laws. So, truly Nigerian online casinos still have a long way to go.
But one area where iGaming is thriving in the local scene is in sports betting. The government rules allow licensed Nigerian companies and casinos to provide online sportsbooks.
And sports, especially football, have a massive fan following in the country. European leagues like the English Premier League counts millions of dedicated Nigerians among its fans and viewers.
Besides the three licensed casinos, other online portals in Nigeria offer extremely popular sportsbooks on everything from local events to international tournaments in all sports – football, martial arts, racing and more.
The most popular local Nigerian iGaming startups include Bet9ja, Nairabet, and Merrybet. Nairabet was the first-ever online portal of its kind in the country, launched in 2013.
Positive developments for iGaming in Nigeria
For maximum growth in the sector, the Nigerian government has to take clear steps that create a well-regulated iGaming industry in the country. Though that still looks far away, Nigeria still has a bright future in online gambling for several key reasons.
For starters, mobile and internet connectivity is improving like crazy with each passing year. More and more Nigerians have a smartphone these days and can connect to the internet easily.
Lack of reliable online payment solutions was another severe roadblock that deterred many players away from the online scene in the past. But with the rise of convenient and secure payment solutions like Paystack and Flutterwave, online transactions are on the rise.
There is also increased interest from foreign investors in the local gambling scene. In a country that loves gambling, this is a potent combination that could work wonders in the online igaming scene. Hitherto, Nigerians were dependant on offline avenues like lotteries run by the Lagos State Lotteries Board.
But with the rise of iGaming, they can now look forward to more convenient and exciting new ways to gamble online. The government has been taking a passive role in gambling regulations.
The Nigerian government has historically had a very benevolent, positive outlook towards gambling. Its main focus has been on protecting Nigerian players from illegal scams. As more and more cash head online, it is sure to take notice and act.
Instead of bans, we can expect regulations that allow companies to operate legally while bringing tax revenue to the state. Nigerian players have plenty to feel excited about the future of online gambling in the country.
Source: News update