THE ECONOMIC IMPLICATIONS OF FOOTBALL BETTING IN YOLA, NIGERIA
Gambling is a popular activity globally and has become a lucrative business with multi-dollars investment. Among its various forms sports betting activities, particularly among youths, is increasing rapidly (Masaba, Sekakubo, Blaszczynski, and Kukah, 2016) in Sub-Saharan Africa with football betting rating higher than other forms of sport betting. In contemporary Nigeria the rate at which youths patronize football betting is at alarming rate. Although the Nigerian constitution approves gambling and make legislations to guide it yet Omanch and Okpamen (2018) decry that despite the presence of gambling legislation in Nigeria, it appears that little effort is directed to properly implementing and monitoring compliance; for example, the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC) has failed to relocate sports betting shops and other gambling facilities away from public places like schools and churches. There are also no proper mechanisms to regulate online sports betting.
Omanch and Okpamen (2018) attest that 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. Akhidenor (2017) says that with the growing interest in gambling, sports betting is now a booming business in Nigeria. Thus, the widespread of online sports betting shops in nukes and crannies of Nigeria are obvious and many youths subscribe to them to the extent that it seems to be detrimental on them as the fortunes expected by the bettors are not forthcoming while the misfortunes are inevitable. Okorodudu (2014) observes that the most active participant in this trade are adolescents and youths whose main objective rather than being on how to lay good foundation to better their tomorrow is on the desire to get rich at all cost and crush any obstacle that might stand against their desire. If this trend of football betting continues with its present patronage by youths, it is likely that within few more years problem gambling may be inevitable among many youths in our nation.
It is not a surprise that many youths involve in football betting as Eribake (2018) observes that about 60 million Nigerians between 18 and 40 years of age may be spending up to N1.8 billion on sports betting daily. Masaba, Sekakubo, Blaszczynski and Kukah (2016) decry that the effect of this trend is reflected in the emerging numbers of actual and potential gamblers, especially among youth. As a consequence, attention has been directed towards youths addicted to the extent that they have resigned from gainful employment and resorted to gambling, with others manifesting significant health complications. The worst of it all is that sometimes parents who should caution their children to desist from such acts are also involved also minors in one way or the other participate in betting or gambling. Young people perceive gambling as an acceptable activity to the extent that some consider it an alternative source of livelihood toward which they would rather devote substantial time and energy (Ssewanyanga and Bitanihirwe, 2013), even invest their money to get more money/ reward which most times such dream is not realized.
The Church as an institution of faith, hope and charity cannot afford to be indifferent to the issue of football betting in the society. Therefore, this reality requires that some approaches to tackling it have to be sought in order to complement the varied steps so far taken by National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC). Against this backdrop, the researcher envisions to look at the response of the Church to curtail high rate of football betting among Nigerian youths and other policies that could be adopted to minimize youth propensity to betting.
This study defines its key words:
Hornby (2015) echoes that appraisal is a judgment of the value, performance or nature of something/ somebody. In this context appraisal means to examine the pros and cons of football betting among Nigerian youths.
Hornby (2015) defines blessing as something that is good or helpful. In this context blessing means the benefits of football betting in Nigeria.
Hornby (2015) states that burden is a duty or responsibility etc. that causes worry, hardship. In this context burden is the costs of football betting in Nigeria.
Gerda (2006) posits that gambling is a broad concept that includes a range of different activities, including betting on races and gambling machines, gambling in bingo halls, amusement arcades and casinos, as well as playing the lottery and on the internet. Gambling is defined as staking something valuable in the hope of winning a prize where the outcome depends on the outcome of events, which are unknown to the participants at the time of the bet (Ahaibwe, Lakuma, Katunze and Mawejje, 2016:1).
Akhidenor (2017) views that Section 57 of the National Lottery Act (2005) defines sports/football betting as any activity of predicting sporting results and placing a wager on its outcome with the hope of winning a set prize. It is mainly done online.
Joinet (2000) defines a youth as all young persons of the age 18- 35 years. In this research gambling and betting would be used interchangeably.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Sports betting though a lucrative business in Nigeria has its pros and cons. The resultant effects of excessive betting especially on the teeming youths are crystal clear as even parents and children are not exempted. This calls for moderation on the part of bettors to avoid being addicted to it which results to problem gambling. The Church has the onus to inoculate youths from active betting activities through effective preaching and teaching, prayer, counseling, religious activities and programmes. There are policies proposed by researchers that could help to limit proliferation of betting shops. Having seen that the burden of sports betting is greater than its blessing there is need to make efforts to curb youth propensity to bet.
1. Churches nationwide should contribute immensely in area of youth empowerment and development programmes as it will increase employment rate in our nation
2. Youths should register in the vocational and entrepreneurship centres established by the Churches to be self-employed and become entrepreneur
3. The government can minimize the negative outcomes associated with problem gambling by reducing access to betting outlets, taxing it heavily and developing social interventions that rehabilitate problem gamblers.
4. The Church should also increase public awareness about consequences of betting as well as provide help to youths addicted to betting.
5. The Church should train counsellors on how to identify and rehabilitate problem gamblers.
6. There is also a need to integrate counselling for gambler into programs targeted at counselling for co-occurring problems such as alcoholism and substance abuse.
Such a program mix would greatly reduce the impact of problem gambling.
7. There is need for the public to be protected from over stimulation of latent gambling through limitation of gambling opportunities; by imposing tighter restrictions on advertising; tighter restrictions on entry into gambling establishments, based on age; and limitation of opening hours among others..