By Chima Azu
The growth in mobile money services has created new opportunities for companies to sell their products and services and sports’ betting is not an exception. Currently, you will hardly find any betting company that is not using financial technology (mobile money) on their betting platforms, which helps bettors in funding and withdrawing from their betting accounts. Mobile money being aided by the internet and mobile adoption has obviously created a spike on patronage for online gaming industry in the country. And this increase is majorly amongst the young adults punters who are between the ages of 18-40.
According to statista, in 2016 the mobile internet users in the country amounted to a mere 39.57 million. Now in 2021, there are 101.72 million internet audiences in Nigeria; that is obviously a huge increase within 5 years. It is projected that the figure will increase to 142.73 by 2026. Also, in December 2020 statista estimated the number of smartphone users in Nigeria to roughly 25-40 million. And the forecast is said to grow to more than 140 million by 2025. With the increase in internet usage even in remote areas and spike in more people having an internet enabled phone, this will in turn bring about increase in number of online punters and as well increase in GGR for betting operators.
Covid-19 also played a pivotal role in the increase in online gambling. Retail shops were all closed during the lockdown and many punters resorted to online gambling as a means of making money and a change from retail that they were used to. Awoofsports media crew carried out a research within Surulere axis, a local government area in Lagos Nigeria, asking many punters who are young adults who decided to be anonymous, which do they prefer between online and retail shops and why. 85 percent of these punters said they prefer online stakes because of its convenience and accessibility. Also, that they like using their phones to place wagers because it is easier to fund and withdraw whatever amount they win without anybody knowing unlike in retail shops. And some said they they prefer online because of the cashout option that can be done at anytime unlike printed tickets.
Although retail still holds sway in the gaming industry in Nigeria with many punters sticking to what they are used to and with life coming back to normal after the lockdown; however, it is without doubt that online is becoming the new norm and it is here to stay. With the growth in internet penetration, mobile money and increase in smart phone users it is obvious that online gambling can only keep growing therefore intending operators should take into cognizance the importance of online gambling in the current gaming space especially to the young adults who has a huge chunk of the gaming population.