• Saturday, May 25, 2024
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Lawmakers roll the dice against sports betting surge

Men betting

In a decisive move, the House of Representatives has taken steps to halt sports betting activities across the nation, urging strict adherence to the Lottery Regulatory Commission Act of 2005 by the National Lottery Regulatory Commission.

The resolution, spurred by a motion put forward by Kelechi Nwogu (PDP-Rivers) during Thursday’s plenary session in Abuja, reflects growing apprehensions regarding the widespread engagement of approximately 60 million Nigerians, aged 18 to 40, in sports betting, as earlier reported by the News Agency of Nigeria.

Nwogu underscored the adverse effects of loosely regulated sports betting, citing concerns about its contribution to mental health challenges such as depression, anxiety, and addiction. He further emphasized the strain it places on interpersonal relationships, financial stability, and its alleged association with increased crime rates and tragic outcomes such as suicide.

Addressing these concerns, the House has called upon the Federal Ministry of Information and National Orientation to initiate an extensive nationwide campaign, aimed at educating the public about the detrimental impacts of youth involvement in sports betting. Additionally, the Committee on Inter-Governmental Affairs has been tasked with conducting a public hearing to delve into the dangerous repercussions of sports betting within Nigeria, with a report expected within four weeks to inform further legislative actions.

Data from the National Lottery Trust Fund indicates significant financial implications, with over 65 million Nigerians actively participating in betting, collectively spending an estimated $975 million daily, translating to a staggering $356 billion annually, particularly in online sports betting.

Despite these legislative moves, reactions from stakeholders have been mixed. While a staff member of SportyBet, speaking anonymously, criticized the timing of the decision amidst economic hardships, others like Emmanuel Abraham have voiced skepticism, suggesting that the government may be using the issue as a distraction from larger economic challenges. Abraham contends that while sports betting can be addictive, so are many other activities, and banning it outright may not address the underlying issues.

Furthermore, punters like Bennet Winner have characterized the proposal as misguided, accusing lawmakers of targeting a source of income for many Nigerians without addressing the root causes of unemployment and economic instability.