With the sports betting industry in Nigeria now worth millions of dollars, is the country getting the most out of the sector?
Nigeria has one of the biggest betting markets in Africa, but it is still very much a developing market, especially with the unclear and outdated gambling laws.
In theory, gambling in Nigeria is regulated, with the National Lottery Regulatory Commission charged with the responsibility of watching over the industry.
And while the NLRC has done a decent job, more needs to be done.
There are quite a few licensed betting operators in Nigeria, the very best of which can be seen on My Betting Sites Nigeria, but there are many more erring bookies floating around the internet.
These unregistered companies have been consistently siphoning away money that should otherwise be circulating in the Nigerian economy, and denying the government of valuable tax revenue.
There has to be a more deliberate effort by the authorities to identify and cut off unlicensed betting operators in Nigeria, especially those operating online. This has been successfully done in countries like Australia, where internet services providers have been instructed to block any unregistered operators.
By doing this, such companies are either forced to comply with the laws of the land, or halt their services to Nigerian players.
It would be a win-win for Nigeria. If the operators decide to pay their license fees and fulfill their tax responsibilities, more money would be generated for the country.
And if the companies are forced off the market, their Nigerian customers will have to look inwards towards registered betting sites.
Another way the Nigerian government can gain more from the betting industry is by copying the Kenyan taxation model.
Kenyan punters currently pay a 7.5% tax on all betting stakes, while there is a 20% withholding tax on winnings. Betting companies are mandated to remit their withholding tax to the Kenya Revenue Authority every month.
This taxing system initially caused plenty of controversy amongst Kenyan stakeholders, but things have since settled down, and all licensed operators now comply with the ruling.
At first glance, placing tax on betting stakes may seem harsh on the bettors, but upon more critical observation, it may not be such a terrible thing to do.
A large percentage of the money being wagered ends up being lost bets anyway, thus adding to the revenue of the betting operators. It isn’t such a bad idea to take a percentage of that money and redirect it into the government coffers.
It is now up to the government to return the money to the people by improving infrastructure and the general standard of living of the population.
These are just some of the options that the government could put in place in order to get more out of the betting industry.
Given the large amount of money circulating around sports betting in Nigeria (and out of Nigeria), the authorities will be missing an easy trick if they do not tighten up loose ends and find ways to start making more from the industry.