Faced with rising unemployment and underemployment, many Nigerians have embraced sports betting, making it the most popular emerging form of gambling in the country.
Weekends are popular with football but for most of those watch, it is not just for pleasure, also at stake for them is survival, the opportunity to make some money from the outcome of the football match.
This paper recently reported how the gambling especially sports betting has seen exponential growth lately as the nation’s economic environment pushes millions of unemployed, underemployed and middle-class population to seek extra income to beat rising cost of living.
Estimates from the gambling industry show that about 60 million Nigerians between the ages 18 and 40 years spend an average of N3, 000 per day on sports betting. They are all hanging on the hope that they will be lucky some day and hit big with one lucky win. It is this hope that the gambling industry feeds on the world over and Nigeria is not an exception.
But with the significant rising in betting, perhaps it is time that the government take a closer look at the betting industry and explore ways in which it can take advantage of the huge monies being raised in that sector to support other critical sectors of the economy. The government impose a betting tax, that compels a portion of all money placed on betting to be redirected into healthcare investment for the vulnerable members of the society. Part of this tax could be set aside as funds that can be accessed at single digit interest rates by unemployed youths to start a business. In this way, some of the huge funds going into the betting industry can be redirected into supporting other critical sectors of the Nigerian economy. Betting will thrive but then the productive sector will also benefit.