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Stakers Reject Reps’ Move to Stop Sports Betting

The House of Representatives has decided to put an end to sports betting in the nation and has urged the National Lottery Regulatory Commission to adhere to the Lottery Regulatory Commission Act of 2005.

This resolution came about after the acceptance of a proposal by Kelechi Nwogu (PDP-Rivers) during the plenary session in Abuja on Thursday.

It was previously reported by the News Agency of Nigeria that around 60 million Nigerians, aged between 18 and 40, participate in sports betting.

The lawmaker stated that the inadequate or disregarded regulation of sports betting has led to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and addiction. Nwogu also highlighted that it has caused strain or breakdowns in relationships due to deception or theft from friends and family, financial troubles, legal problems, and unemployment due to significant losses or debt.

"Betting has contributed to a rise in criminal activities and, eventually, suicide," he emphasized.

He emphasized the importance of campaigns to mitigate the adverse social consequences of gambling and underage involvement.

By adopting the motion, the House urged the Federal Ministry of Information and National Orientation to conduct a comprehensive nationwide campaign to increase public awareness of the negative impact of youth involvement in sports betting.

The House also tasked the Committee on Inter-Governmental Affairs with holding a public hearing on the harmful effects of sports betting in Nigeria and to report back within four weeks for further legislative action.

According to data from the National Lottery Trust Fund, over 65 million Nigerians are actively involved in betting, spending an average of $15 daily. Nigerians are estimated to spend $975 million daily on online sports betting, amounting to about $356 billion annually.

In an interview with The PUNCH, a SportyBet employee, who requested anonymity, criticized the lawmakers' move as ill-timed given the current economic challenges in the country. He questioned why the government would contemplate cracking down on an industry that is a significant source of employment.

Similarly, a bettor, Emmanuel Abraham, argued that the government was attempting to create a distraction from the dire state of the economy. He asserted that the reasons put forth by the lawmakers were untenable, citing other human activities that also result in addiction and depression.

Sports betting has become a source of income for many Nigerians, and it's unjust for lawmakers to propose banning it without providing alternative employment opportunities for the youth.

Another bettor, Bennet Winner, characterized the proposal to ban sports betting as the work of "idle individuals." He expressed disappointment in lawmakers attempting to deprive honest Nigerians of sustenance during a time of unprecedented economic hardship.

Efforts to contact the Association of Nigerian Bookmakers, the national trade association representing sports betting, lottery, and gaming operators in Nigeria, were unsuccessful as of the time of this report.

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