Escape route from poverty or freeway to penury?

On this piece, GIFT HABIB explores the rising involvement of youths in sports activities betting and their seeming habit to playing which specialists describe as a pathway to drug abuse and different self-destructive habits

As early as 7:52 am on Saturday, November 12, 2022, two younger boys stood on a avenue, ready for a betting store within the Kubwa space of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to open for enterprise. They chatted about how they narrowly missed successful massive the evening earlier than because of the loss suffered by their favorite membership – Chelsea soccer membership.

A couple of minutes later, the store attendant arrived and everybody trooped into the store which was geared up with two computer systems and three iron chairs. On the wall was a BetKings poster motivating individuals to play and win. On the ground had been rumpled or torn betting slips trashed by dissatisfied stakers – symbols of forlorn hope, proof of aborted desires. The younger males hurriedly positioned their bets as they clutched at desires of a jackpot.

Sports activities betting has change into an escape route for a lot of Nigerian youths in search of a manner out of the financial crunch within the nation. For a lot of who wouldn’t have a secure technique of livelihood, playing has change into an alternate supply of earnings and this explains the attraction of sports activities betting to the youths.

 Sports activities betting, which was hitherto seen as a type of playing favoured by the previous and idle, has been made extra engaging by way of know-how. Gone are the times of pool betting, because it has been modified by know-how and is now internet-driven. With a smartphone, it has change into fairly simple to put a wager and dream of turning into a millionaire in a single day.

A report by the Information Company of Nigeria says no fewer than 60 million Nigerians between 18 and 40 years had been energetic in sports activities betting between 2019 and 2020. The proliferation of betting retailers in city areas and the rising wave of habit to playing is proof of the rising involvement of youthful gamers throughout the nation. A go to to some betting retailers within the Federal Capital Territory revealed the presence of youths and youngsters inserting bets with the hope of ‘cashing out.’

Investigations revealed that many youngsters and youths had been lured into the behavior by associates and acquaintances. A banker, Emmanuel Ola, mentioned he was launched to playing by his cousin. The 26-year-old defined that his cousin was doing it for enjoyable, including that he (Ola) acquired the behavior whereas in secondary faculty.

 In line with him, “I began betting from my secondary faculty days. I used to be round 15-16 years previous then. My neighbour was a music producer and a fan of Actual Madrid (a soccer membership) and my cousin, who was a singer went there to provide his songs. So, I often tagged together with my cousin only for some time. Throughout his leisure time, the music producer engaged in betting.

 ‘’He instructed me how he cashed out, misplaced and the way he was having enjoyable whereas betting. So, he instructed me that I may wager however suggested that I ought to solely stake with a small quantity that won’t harm me if I misplaced. So, I began betting with N100. He guided me since he knew methods to stake. Being a Christian, I really feel betting is basically dangerous. I’ve heard so many sermons that it is rather dangerous. However I hold betting due to the enjoyable I derived from the video games. It helps me to settle down after a really hectic day.

‘’I needed to scale back my betting as a result of I saved dropping (cash). I stake on-line as a result of I really feel ashamed going to retailers to select video games or I ship somebody to assist stake. The reality is that you just hardly win towards these betting corporations. I’ve not received as much as N30,000 and I’ve staked over N30,000 through the years.”

Different youths and youngsters additionally expressed how they battled an habit to sports activities playing. For Kayode Odunuga, a scholar and Ogun State resident, betting is about ‘’catching enjoyable.’’ He attributed his love for betting to an commercial which inspired him to foretell and win.

He mentioned, “It’s about practising your predictions. For me, betting is nice in case you are not addicted or not taking part in with cash that’s meant for one thing extra helpful. However I do play it to catch enjoyable or add to my data as it’s not a foul thought. I’ve been betting for the previous two years. I began betting after an commercial inspired me to foretell and win one thing. I’ve up to now received round N30,000. If I wouldn’t have cash, I’ll cease betting.”

Within the case of Nathaniel James, 20, betting is a manner of survival therefore each effort should be geared in direction of successful. Justifying his playing behavior, the college admission seeker said, “My thought of betting is about placing extra effort into successful. Betting is nice for me as a result of successful comes if you least anticipate it. Typically, one is likely to be broke and it helps to cowl one’s disgrace for some time. I’ve been betting for about 4 years now. Again then, individuals often despatched me to go to betting retailers and assist them to stake and that was how I began betting.’’

James admitted that he bets six days per week. This could possibly be mentioned to be a pattern amongst these hooked on sports activities playing. Although the best he mentioned he ever received was N39,000, he acknowledged that his behavior controls his temper and way of life.

 “This betting is sort of a spirit. Even when I don’t need to play the sport, I get indignant and delete the app however I’ll later set up it as a result of I would like it to outlive. I gamble a lot as a result of I can’t do with out it. Betting is a standard factor to me now and nobody can speak me out of it,’’ he admitted.

  Ikechukwu Reward, a businessman in his late 20s mentioned his love for playing was nurtured by a buddy who derived varied formulation in sports activities betting. At first, he received a string of bets which additional motivated him to stake greater bets, describing it as a worthwhile threat.

 “To me, betting is a threat and it’s dangerous to not take a threat however one has to take a calculated threat. Betting is neither good nor dangerous. It’s good when you don’t wager on a regular basis and if you wager in a calculative measure however if you make it a life deal, it’s harmful. In life, one has to learn to handle losses and wins so I attempt to re-strategise on my misplaced bets and study from my errors,’’ he philosophised.

 Chima, who lives in Lagos, described betting as enjoyable, noting {that a} good gambler can’t lose a lot cash, insisting that anybody concerned in betting ought to curb his urge for food for playing.

‘’In case you are good, you received’t lose lots which makes watching a sporting occasion significantly better. I’ve been betting since I used to be 23 and don’t suppose I may undergo a Sunday within the Nationwide Soccer League season with out betting on the video games,” he declared.

 Acknowledging that habit to the video games is harmful, Chima nonetheless didn’t see something improper in sports activities betting, particularly ‘’when it’s accomplished properly.’’

 Within the case of Gideon Ekene, a resident of Mararaba, Nasarawa State, the attract of betting began when he was about 18 years. The 30-year-old recalled how his love for soccer metamorphosed into an itch for playing.

Regardless of dropping cash to the harmful behavior, Ekene didn’t nurse any sense of loss or regret as he believed that it was only a recreation the place a participant can win or lose.

He famous, “My staking relies on my confidence within the recreation. There are some I stake N10,000, N5,000, N200, N100 and many others. I feel I’ve received over N500,000 in sports activities betting though I missed N40m in June 2022. My buddy staked the sport with N68,000 and he received N40m. It will have been my ‘sapa’ escape route. I can do with out taking part in a recreation. Lack of funds could make me not spend cash.”

 Vincent Chinecherem, a resident of Lafia, sees betting as a type of youth empowerment, noting that many youths had made cash from playing. He described it as a social way of life. However he cautioned towards habit, warning that it is a lure all gamblers should keep away from in any respect prices.

 Whereas others ventured into playing for monetary causes, Thompson Adeola mentioned he does it for pleasure, including that he developed the behavior as a youngster.

He said, ‘’I wager extra when there are certain video games. Folks say that betting is dangerous however the identical individuals will love you if you win cash. Every time I win, I’m all the time very blissful as a result of I’ll use the cash to settle payments. My highest win up to now was N12,000. As a substitute of retaining my cash, I make investments it in betting.”

 The alarming variety of youngsters going into sports activities betting has, nonetheless, raised the query of the implications on society, as discovering has proven that sports activities betting has change into an habit to many youths.

 For many who don’t like visiting betting retailers, there are on-line betting companies, together with apps and websites to cater for his or her craving. Although it’s legalised as they’re taxed, the involvement of youngsters questions the present authorized framework guiding sports activities playing. There was a report of how a gross sales boy staked over N500,000 belonging to his boss on sports activities betting over a time frame.

 For a lot of, it has change into troublesome to decide out and this has change into a priority even to the operators. A betting agent, Trizzy, mentioned he’s not comfy with the involvement of youths and youngsters in playing.

He said, “It’s a rising enterprise as a result of it’s a platform the place you should utilize N100 to win some huge cash with out stress though, it is rather addictive.”

 The agent noticed that lots of people are going into it due to the rising poverty within the nation.

 “It does hassle me once I see younger individuals come into the store to wager however then, the unemployment fee is excessive and the strain on the youthful era is excessive. Society expects lots from them,” he mentioned.

 He, nonetheless, mentioned it could be improper to tag these concerned in sports activities betting as lazy ‘’as the sport calls for plenty of mind work.’’  To eradicate the involvement of youngsters, Trizzy mentioned there ought to be correct restrictions in place.

 He mentioned, “I’m in assist of age restriction with regards to betting. One must be above 18 years to play. In a whole lot of retailers, you will note individuals that aren’t as much as 18 years taking part in. These beneath 18 ought to concentrate on their schooling.”

The Govt Secretary, Affiliation of Nigerian Bookmakers, Olabimpe Akingba, described playing as a enjoyable exercise, noting that as a lot because the operators tried to bar underage gamers, it’s not attainable to do that 100 per cent.

“As a lot because the operators attempt to forestall these underage gamers and youngsters from betting, there can’t be 100 per cent prevention as a result of you’ve got individuals who play on-line and aren’t bodily seen. Some even add the ID of their relations,‘’ he defined.

A psychologist, Margaret Joel, mentioned “Folks go into playing because of desperation to have cash by all means. In addition they see it as a type of leisure. They derive pleasure in participating in playing and earlier than they comprehend it, it units its root and turns into an habit. Others go into playing due to the success tales of different gamblers. Playing comes with despair, low vanity and anxiousness.’’

 Joel suggested that “playing might be stopped by way of rehabilitation. Altering habits too may help an individual dump playing.”

Additionally, one other psychologist, Charles Akoh, described playing as one of the vital insidious of human vices, noting that it presents the phantasm of simple cash but can shortly result in monetary destroy.

‘’The chances are by no means in your favour whether or not it’s poker, blackjack or sports activities betting. Playing is a profitable business as a result of the home all the time wins. The reality of the matter is that it’s not all the time apparent when somebody is hooked on playing.

‘’Playing can happen when an individual feels that they’re in monetary destroy and might solely remedy their issues by playing what little they’ve in an try to get a big sum of cash. Sadly, this nearly all the time results in a cycle wherein the gambler feels they need to win again their losses, and the cycle goes on till the individual is compelled to hunt rehabilitation to interrupt their behavior,’’ he famous.

Noting the elements which are answerable for playing which can result in habit, the knowledgeable cautioned that they’ll additionally result in substance abuse and a spiral down the trail of psychological points and destitution.

Akoh really helpful that the federal government ought to discourage playing by penalising shops that encourage youngsters and underage gamblers.

‘’Mother and father and society typically ought to act quick to discourage the youthful ones from persevering with in betting. Youths ought to be sensitised on the damaging results of betting,’’ he suggested.

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Matthew Burkaa famous that the best manner out is for each the federal government and the personal sector to sort out unemployment.

Burkaa harassed that ‘’The federal government, personal sector and everybody that loves this nation ought to strive as a lot as attainable to search for an answer to curb unemployment. Additionally, social orientation will go a protracted strategy to educate those that there isn’t any shortcut to earning profits. Exhausting work is required.”

 A cleric, Akintola Albert, warned youths and youngsters to cease in search of shortcuts to earning profits, including that betting doesn’t resolve what one turns into in life.

Nevertheless, the founder, United World Resolve for Peace, Olaseni Shalom mentioned sports activities betting was a life saver for some youths, including that playing could possibly be seen from two sides.

“It’s a thriving enterprise in Nigeria and different components of the world. It has additionally been a lifesaver for many youths. It’s extra like an alternative choice to evil.  Once you take a look at the conscience aspect of it, it tells you the way far we’ve got gone in society and the way dangerous the state of affairs is and most youths have misplaced hope within the financial system.

‘’They need to resort to betting if they don’t need to get into crimes and different vices. Betting corporations in flip aren’t unlawful. The necessary factor is for our authorities to higher the financial system and attempt to make use of these youths,’’ he harassed.

 On his half, the Govt Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Auwal Rafsanjani, mentioned playing or betting has change into one of the vital frequent methods to generate profits.

“The priority nonetheless with that is the infiltration of criminality and legal parts, which if not dealt with correctly, can have a really adverse impression on the people and the neighborhood,’’ he submitted.

However the Nationwide Lottery Regulatory Fee insisted that the enterprise is guided by legislation which operators had been anticipated to adjust to.

The Head, Public Affairs of the fee, Magnus Ekechukwu disclosed that the company has been working to sort out the problem of playing habit, calling on dad and mom to not neglect their duties within the coaching of their kids.

He added, “The Fee is worried to the extent that we’ve got our legal guidelines governing sports activities betting in Nigeria. Let me let you know that by the legislation governing betting and gaming, no particular person beneath the age of 18 is inspired to take part in gaming or any type of lottery.

‘’So, to that extent, I’ll let you know that we’re involved. Moreover, the Fee additionally has this guideline that has been issued to all licensed lottery operators to not permit individuals underneath the age of 18 close to its premises.

 ‘’As an example, if a participant wins a sure sum of money, there’s a duty on the Fee and lottery operators to advise the participant on how finest to use the funds as a substitute of going again to the lottery. It isn’t about successful cash, it’s about being accountable as a result of gaming and the lottery are one other technique of wealth distribution whether or not individuals settle for it or not.”

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