Millions of Nigerian youths are placing bets on football games weekly.
Football season is back. This means fans can watch their favourite teams battle it out for the league time.
Some football lovers don't just watch the game to see their team lift a trophy at the end of the season. For these group of football fanatics, the time invested in these games is personal.
On Saturday and Sunday mornings, young men gather at betting shops all over Lagos, Nigeria. They are placing bets on the weekend's football games. They bet on the result of matches of the biggest football leagues in the world.
Football bets are not only restricted to the elite leagues. People also place bets on the result of matches from obscure countries like Azerbaijan.
The flow of football gamblers moves to viewing centres a few hours later. Viewing centres are popular in Nigeria as many people can't afford to watch the games on DStv.
You can notice the football gamblers in viewing centres easily. They hold on to their bet tickets, hoping and praying results go their way. To get a winning ticket involves having an in-depth knowledge of the game and sheer luck.
Who would have predicted that Burnley would win defending champions Chelsea? A wrong bet in their lineup of matches might mean a week of hardship. For many Nigerians betting, it is a way to raise money.
Betting on football games is big business in Nigeria. According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), N1.8b is spent on sports betting daily in Nigeria.
It is not surprising that Nigerians in the youth demographic are heavily involved in betting. The poll states that 60 million people within this age range are into betting and gambling. This is not surprising. Nigeria is a football crazy country that has a huge youth population.
The poll results reveal why Nigerians bet on football games weekly. 30% of the people who took the poll said they gamble because it is a way to make quick money. 21% said it was because of the high rate of unemployment. 15% said it was for greed and other reasons.
Segun Akinrodoye a.k.a Cheche, 25, started betting in 2009 during his pre-degree days at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO).
By April 2017 he was an expert at the game of odds. According to him, he was so close to making over N100m from betting in April 2017. He placed the wrong bet on a single game and that messed up his ticket and stopped him from being a multi-millionaire today.
"My God, I cried, honestly," he tells Pulse. "A friend told me to change the Leicester option to handicap win but I didn't. I wanted to but I don't know how I over looked it" says Akinrodoye on his slip up.
The Manchester United fan says he spends nothing less than N1,000 in a week for multiple games. The highest amount Akinrodoye has made from placing bets on football games is N127,000. This was in 2014.
Just like many young Nigerians involved in sports betting, Segun Akinrodoye used the money to settle some issues at home.
"Well, then things were a little bit hard for my parents and myself too. Pops was seriously sick and I was already owing school fees for my fourth year before going for I.T" he reveals.
Segun Akinrodoye quickly paid his school fees with the money. He also bought a Sony laptop that was essential to his studies in school and a good suit for his I.T defence.
There are many young Nigerians like Segun who gamble just to get by and get extra cash. It is a means to make more money and for some, it's the only money they make.
Gambling is very prevalent in the Southern part of Nigeria. According to NOI, the South-South and South-West regions have the highest prevalence. In Islam, betting is frowned upon. This is why betting isn't common in Northern Nigeria where they are a lot of Muslims.
Despite not making over N100m, Segun Akinrodoye says it hasn't stopped him from betting. As a matter of fact, it has encouraged him to continue. "I picked myself up again," he says about his loss. "I might be close now so I'm not giving up yet" he states.
60% of the people who took the poll admitted to winning a bet a few times a month. 8% say they have never won.
On Saturday, August 19, 2017, millions of young Nigerians would go to betting centres and put their money where their mouth is. They would be hoping to make a lot of money from a run of games and get out of the rat race most Nigerians living below the poverty line find themselves in.
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