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recent times there has been lots of excitement about the African gaming market
for reasons which are not farfetched, given its demographic asset, which presents
a growth opportunity for many companies. Of the 53 African countries Nigeria is
undoubtedly the largest market by virtue of its population making it the
preferred investment destination for most gaming companies, but beyond the
excitement about the industry and its prospects, what is the value of Nigeria’s
gaming industry? Do we have any supporting data? As always we have looked to
companies like PWC and a host of other institutions to guide us. For example
PWC’s 2015 – 2019 gaming outlook while projecting that gaming revenues were up
by 17%, based its projections on only 3 licensed casinos in Nigeria. In reality
casinos occupy the lowest rung of the Nigerian gaming ladder, PWC’s gaming
outlook distorts the impact of the industry and how it permeates our economic
life. A cursory look at the assumptions indicates a lack of understanding or
appreciation of the industry.

Our industry is grossly misconceived
and this misconception manifests itself in frequently asked questions like “do
Nigerians’ gamble?” “Is gambling legal in Nigeria” etc.? The National lottery
Act defines lottery to”… include games of chance or skill”; though the
definition may be unwieldy it definitely expands the frontiers of the industry
beyond what it is traditionally known. If the NLRC definition is anything to go
by then it means that even the “Ayo Ayo’ played across Africa forms part of the
industry and it predates any form of contemporary gaming device, which
currently exists in Africa.
 The legality of
gambling in Nigeria has been questioned severally partly because of controversy
surrounding the1977 slot machine prohibition act; the act was not meant to
prohibit gambling in general, the law simply sought to regulate indiscriminate
littering of slot machines across the length and breath of the country. On
whether Nigerians gamble or not, that depends on the class you belong to. The
truth is that the generality of our people are casual gamblers but we are
certainly active when it comes to mobile based wagering, raffles draws, promos
etc. At the lower end of the spectrum pools betting and lottery has been part
and parcel of our lives from colonial times. Though we are a religious set of
people our religious sensibilities ironically endear us to the fundamental
principles of gambling, the concept of miracles, sowing a seed and reaping
large and immediate rewards.
gaming has been stigmatized in our climes but casinos and slot institutions
have been the biggest victims of our selective moralization of the industry,
while raffle draws and similar schemes have become widely accepted without so
much thought as to the underlying fact that they are laundered forms of gambling.
If the NLRC’s definition is anything to by it means that even the video games
played with consoles or preloaded on the phones of our 133million mobile
subscribers or those played on desk /laptops, promos, raffle draws by corporate
organizations i.e. telcos , banks, fmcgs etc. form a significant portion of the
industry ,though they run into billions of Naira every year they have never
been considered as part of the industry.
general we may have our reservations about sports betting we however subconsciously
rationalize this type of wagering because it is tied to our passion for sports,
in any case sports betting cannot survive on its own, it piggy bags on sports
events. Interestingly while we consider Lotteries a form of gambling it has
never really been stigmatized maybe because of its historical and religious
that we have defined gambling in accordance with Nigeria’s law; as well as
established that almost all Nigerians are involved at some level , what is the
size of the gaming industry in Nigeria? How does it contribute to our GDP? Was
is ever captured during the rebasing of the economy? If it was under which
subsectors was it captured? under ICT, entertainment or tourism?