To many Nigerians, betting has become a way of life. From sport betting to virtual game betting, from lotteries to pool games, more and more Nigerians are beginning to participate.
It is quite easy to reach this conclusion, considering the fact that there has been an apparent increase in the number of bet shops and offices across the country. From neighbourhood to neighbourhood, bet companies can be seen planting shops and offices, online betting platforms have been created increasingly, all in an attempt to ease accessibility for the teeming population of bettors.
Today, more people than usual can be seen trafficking in and out of bet shops, with some of them holding the famous white paper with black imprints, in their hands. This piece of paper is usually called Bet Slip, while another commonly used term for it is, Ticket.
Ordinarily, these tickets might appear to be small pieces of paper with imprinted names of sport teams, athletes or fancy looking numbers, as the case maybe. But to the owner, a ticket is considered an asset, a license to financial gains, it is literarily money in white pages, well, if nothing goes wrong with the prediction it carries. Tickets carry information of prediction made by the ticket owner; it allows such person to follow up on the outcome of his/her prediction. In the case where the prediction turns out to manifest, the slip would have to be tendered by the owner, to claim the winnings. For instance, on Sunday 07/05/2015, when Arsenal played Manchester United, if I placed a bet before the game, on Arsenal to defeat ManU, I would need to present my ticket at the bet shop, to claim my wins, since the match ended 2-0 in favour of Arsenal.
However, not all tickets gets to be tendered for claim of wins, most tickets lose their value when their contained prediction has a final outcome, an unfavourable one. Such slips are quickly disposed of. In the habit of bettors, they go on to make another prediction, then another bet is placed and for many, the cycle continues.
Nigerians are increasingly exploring more bet options; one of such options is virtual game betting. The fact that one can multiply his/her stake almost in an instant seems to appeal to a lot of bettors. The prospect of getting quickly enriched has made virtual game betting a rushed-to option for a lot of Nigerian bettors. But in virtual game betting, money is lost with the same speed as it is gained. People that visit bet shops to bet on virtual games, seem to be peculiar among other bettors. They are not usually seen holding tickets outside of the shops. Usually, their countenance while exiting the bet shop tells the tale. A lot of them visit the bet shop, wearing moods of oversized optimism but only few come out in similarly happy moods, and most of them use the exit doors wearing looks of disappointment, as if something inside the bet shop drained their optimism. People in this category go into bet shops to play virtual games of all sort, soccer, dog racing etc., these games are either won or lost inside of the shop, with nothing to follow up on, on the outside, except, either the celebration of winnings or the pain of loss. It might interest you to know that the parlance ‘Gbera,’ which was popularised by street-hop artiste, Small Doctor, originated from one of such dog racing virtual games. Today, virtual betting is a popular venture for a lot of Nigerians who are hoping to get lucky.
Generally, betting for many is a way of spinning the wheel of fortune. It is taking a chance and hoping to get lucky. Many people understand that life itself is about taking risks, and betting is one of the ventures of life that rewards risk-takers. Basically, people bet not because of lack but because they want more. Both the rich and the poor in the society are in it to multiply input. Both the young and the old in the society can be seen betting, so long you are prepared to take the risk.
Kunle has been involved in sport betting for 2 years. He works with a private company in Lagos. He adopted betting as his side hustle because he needs the extra cash, but his job is too demanding for him to do other businesses. He said betting has been a fairly profitable venture for him. According to him, although betting is a game of luck, he credits most of his successful predictions to his good judgment. The only reason he would quit betting is if he gets a well-paying job.
Chibuzor is a trader. He lost so much in is early days of betting that he almost quit. A friend of his encouraged him to continue. That friend gave him a formula that ‘changed his story.’ Formerly, with #200, #300, he would place bets and expects to win millions. His friend advised him to increase his stakes and reduce his accumulation size. Now he stakes as much as #5000, seeking to multiply it into two to four folds. Since he adopted this strategy, he has been cashing out more.
Peter is a student and a football fanatic. He helps people to make predictions. According to him, his ability to analyze and predict soccer games correctly, has earned him the nickname, Octopus. He revealed that on more than one occasion he spent part of his tuition and recovered it through bet wins. He said nothing is sure in betting, it is about risks. Peter said, “I tell my people, I am not giving you sure game but there is a good chance the game I give you will come”
Bako looked distraught coming out of the bet shop, when we spoke. He claimed to have lost #6500 playing virtual league. He had lost too much on soccer bet, so he decide to try virtual league bet since it is ‘quick money’. He lamented not considering that losing in virtual league bet is just as quick as the wins.
Lola is a student and she only came to the shop to deposit money into her bet account. She prefers betting online because it excuses her from having to join the mass in the bet shop. She had been betting for a year, before we spoke. She was introduced to betting by her ex and she did not stop even after they spread paths. The biggest amount she won from betting is #74,000. Asides from the fact that she follows world soccer, she checks online for predictions and tips. She does not see betting as a full-time venture, she believes that she would stop betting one day, but she does not know when. She said, ‘I don’t know (when I will stop betting). Maybe, it would just happen. But for now I’m in.’
Christian was shredding a bet ticket when I approached him. He had lost the bet because one out of his many accumulated predictions, failed. He was supposed to win #204,000 with #200, if the bet was successful. He said that was not the first time he was in that situation. He said, ‘I go dey bet till e come.’
More and more bet stories are being told in the society today, with very few big break stories, a lot of stories of losses and many more bottled-up losses. With this pattern, the energy and drive to bet only seems to intensify. The hope to tell the big break story someday is the reason people search for better luck by continually betting. At every attempt, a bettor hopes for profit. While they wait on mother luck, they hold the belief that every hustler has a pay day.