By YUSUF MOHAMMED
Last week an unidentified male collapsed at a branch of Bet 9ja. The reason people gave was that he was about to win N24 million but lost because Chelsea lost Bournemouth on Wednesday night.
It is one example of depression. Another youth at Egbeda in Lagos failed to speak with friends and family for almost a week because he staked N20, 000 and lost. There are several cases which have not been reported.
The biting economic situation has made the Nigerian youth turn to sports betting to eke out a living. There are many sports betting companies in Nigeria, but the two most popular ones are Bet Naija and Naira bet although others are springing up by the day such as BetKing, WGB, Betway etc. They are all played the same way. Betting encompasses all sports.
However since most Nigerians are more conversant with the happenings in the football world, they have chosen to play safe by choosing football. Matthew Adeniran, a staff at one of the branches of Naira bet told BusinessHallmark that instead of calling it sports betting, it should be called football or soccer betting.
He said, “Most people come here to place their bets on football teams in the big European leagues. Hardly would you see anyone placing a bet on basketball, horse race, Tennis, boxing etc. A few people do though. But this thing is mainly football.”
Sport betting has taken another dimension in Nigeria. Many people have now become addicted to it.
Wherever you are today in Nigeria, there are sports betting centers with different names. Apart from Bet Naija and Naira bet, there is Golden Bet, Bet King, Sporty people and so on.
Adeniran added that “people win almost every day. People also lose. But the losers are far more than the winners.” When a match is being played the level of support for any team is not usually a function of loyalty or fanaticism; it is usually a result of individuals’ financial commitments to the games. After the games tickets are being dejectedly torn and discarded by the losers, who are in the majority.
What causes this addiction? Why have people become addicted to something that makes them lose money on a weekly basis? Could it be the hope of riches it offers?
Some people say poverty is a major reason why people go into it, some others disagree, arguing that rich people also indulge in it. What drives them all? Surely, the desire to make fast money is what they all have in common.
As a result of the variety of sports, there are games going on every day. As a result, each centre is always buzzing with people ready to gamble.
The new craze in town is like a “drug” one addict who simply gave his name as Tope said. “I just can’t do without it. It has become a part of me. I went into it because I don’t have job. If I had something doing, I would have still gone into it for the fun of it because I love football and really know about it. But my situation today is that my life depends on it.
Asked about the risk involved, he replied, “Like every business in life there are ups and downs. You win some and you lose some. In my own case I have won more than I have lost because I play wisely,” he boasted.
Tope is not alone in this regard. Solomon Ekanem also shares the same view. According to the 27 year old graduate who is unapologetic, betting has become a means of livelihood. Speaking with Business Hallmark he made it clear that, “This is how I survive. I thank God for sports betting. Without it, I am sure many people would have turned to crime for survival. Why don’t we look at the brighter side of it instead of bringing out the negative aspect of it?”
As for Jacob, another young man who lives on Oyero Street, Adeniyi Jones in Ikeja, who angrily expressed that he has not won anything since he got himself involved in gambling. “I have not won anything. I have been playing for five months. I believe my luck will shine one day,” said he.
When asked how much he has lost, he said, “I have lost close to N25, 000 naira altogether. That is despite the fact that I don’t stake big money. The highest I play for a ticket is N200. There are others who place bets of over N1, 000 for a ticket and end up losing. Some even place bets of N10, 000. It all depends on the size of your pocket and how brave you are.
“Considering the amount I have lost so far, I can’t just stop without getting something back. I’ll stop even if I get half of my money back. I just have to win something.”
Just as Jacob rightly expressed, most people continue playing whether they are winning or not. The ones that win believe they could win further, while the ones that lose continue hoping that their luck would shine soon.
Lolade, who works at Nairabet in Ikeja told BusinessHallmark, “That is what most of them say. They say they ill quit once they win something. Winning and losing is almost the same thing. The more you win, the more you want to play. Likewise losing, the more you lose, the more you want to play, hoping to win someday.”
She continued, “That is how the addiction comes in. It is addictive.” When asked if it is limited to the poor or unemployed, she said, “No! The big boys also play. There are many well to do people in the society who love football and want to try their luck. A few of them come here. While most of them place bets on their phones without coming to the centers.”
A young man who goes by the name Larry G is widely acclaimed for his predictions that come to pass. People troop in and out of his room at Ogba, Ikeja with pen and paper for him to help them with how to place bets. Week in and week out, he makes a profit of nothing less than N20, 000.
When asked by BusinessHallmark what the secret is, he said that greed is one of the things affecting people when it comes to sports betting and also other aspects of life. “Some people want to use 100 naira to win one million naira by playing over 30 almost impossible games. Yes there have been a few cases when people made over N200, 000 by placing just N200 for many games. It is however, rare for that to happen.”
In his opinion, “the safest and surest way is to invest huge amount of money on few games. For instant if one chooses five big clubs leading in their respective football leagues to win games against smaller clubs in those respective leagues and places a bet of N100, 000, he may make a profit of N40, 000. It depends on the odd you get after placing your bet.
If you want to be on a safer side, just predict that those big clubs will win or draw against the small clubs. Imagine placing a bet of N500, 000 that Barcelona would win or draw against Real Valcano or Las Palmas in Camp Nou. It is a big gamble due to the amount involved but you are sure to make enough profit.
Some may even be tempted to add Juventus or Liverpool if they are playing small clubs the same weekend. That is even more risky even though these are trusted clubs. But you know, that may be the day that Barcelona or the other two lose at home. That is why it is called gambling. It isn’t for the faint-hearted.”
“As long as it makes feel happy I don’t have any problem. I play with my money and not anyone’s money,” Taiwo Oluwole said.
“Hope is what keeps me going. I am buying hope with my money. Anyone who is hopeless is almost dead man in life. I will continue to play with the hope of winning. The hope of making it big through sports bets keeps me going.”