The double-edged sword that is sports betting in Nigerian Culture

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In Nigeria, the poverty clock keeps ticking. While the rich get richer, the poor are clutched by hunger and lack daily, and millions of poor Nigerians seek spirituality for hope of a greener pasture. Betting culture seems to have become another hopeful spot for the many Nigerians looking to hit that life-changing success in the potpourri of failed attempts.

Winning the jackpot is the dream that seldom becomes reality, more and more people stake their last penny in hopes of higher returns. “At least, this game done play today and e done put garri and soup money for my table this night. Thank God oh” The elated young 26-year-old Timothy Nwosu says, a constant gambler who lives without parents around the streets of D-line in Port Harcourt. He affirmed that Bet9ja has taken lots of fund from him, but has also become a means of livelihood that’s provided him meals sometimes like today. “Although, things hard” He concluded.

While the ongoing ASUU strike (Academic Staff Union of Universities) on Federal Nigerian universities has compounded the frustrations of young Nigerians, a handful of undergraduates currently spend a lot more time in betting shops. Older Nigerians leave their families at home to camp at the betting shops till they can close back after making some gains off the gamble.

For Udochukwu Patrick, betting is fun in the sense that when he loses he stakes more of his money in hopes that he wins. According to him, “I’m a football fanatic and that’s practically the only thing I bet on, either I’m the one with the pad or clubs I believe will win… the losses are part of what fuels the zeal, just like life most times, you lose some you win some, you go down you don’t stay down,” He chuckles looking at me straight in the eye and then focuses back on the Television screen.

Emmanuel Olisa has just finished his last penny and has been left with no money and then scratches his head, he looks directly at the cashier and requests a hundred and fifty Naira from him to book a game on the visual, which is a quicker method to make money instantly. He loses again and now he is in debt, but due to his relationship with the cashier he pleads to pay whenever he gets it back prior to leaving the betting shop.

One of the cashiers, 22-year-old Miracle Anthony confirms that they make more than twenty thousand Naira on a regular basis and that most people find the game interesting so they keep on with it. However, betting culture in Nigeria seems to have become a narrow escape from the poverty clock in Nigeria and it is both for the old and the young although it’s age is restricted to 18+. Udochukwu Patrick believes that such laws aren’t acted upon or enforced because many people below 18 use their smart phones to book games and so on.

However, betting culture in Nigeria didn’t just start, it has been here for as long as Nigerians have been football fanatics. It has only been modernized so more and more Nigerians believe that it could be one of the narrow means to escape poverty.

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