It’s safe to say that gambling has always been poorly regulated in Nigeria. But over the years, the state of gambling in the country has greatly improved. Two Federal Acts were even created to properly regulate the different gambling activities in Nigeria. Though there are still a lot of restrictions, citizens can now enjoy a number of gambling events and activities. Players under 18 years old are also strictly prohibited from participating in any type of gambling activity in Nigeria.
Is it legal to operate and participate in online gambling in Nigeria?
No, online gambling is 100% illegal in Nigeria.
- If a person who currently resides in Nigeria gets caught operating an online gambling site, he’ll face prosecution, hefty fines, and might even get a prison sentence.
- It’s impossible for the government to monitor its citizens and keep them from playing at online gambling sites.
- Though gambling is not legal in Nigeria, there are several online casinos that allow players from Nigeria to sign up and play.
- Some online casinos even accept their currency which is Naira.
- Players who will be caught participating in illegal gambling will be charged with a fine of N40, and/or spend up to 3 months in prison.
Gambling Regulation and Legislation in Nigeria
It might be hard to fully understand how gambling regulation works in Nigeria since there are no clear laws that solely focuses on gambling in Nigeria. However, two Federal Acts were created in order to regulate gambling in Nigeria and they are:
- The Gaming Machines (Prohibition) Act of 1997
- The Nigerian Criminal Code Act
The Gaming Machines (Prohibition) Act of 1977
Here’s a helpful summary of The Gaming Machines (Prohibition) Act of 1977:
- This act states that the owning and using gaming machines is completely illegal in Nigeria.
- If a person is caught violating the act and eventually convicted, he might spend up to one year in prison and without an option for a fine.
- All earnings from the illegal use of gaming machines will be confiscated by the Nigerian government.
- As stated in the Act, a gaming machine is any mechanical token or coin operated gambling device which serves a sole purpose of attracting players to participate in gambling in hopes of winning huge amounts of money.
The Nigerian Criminal Code Act
Here’s a helpful summary of The Nigerian Criminal Code Act:
- This is the second act in Nigeria that involves legal and illegal gambling practices.
- In Subsection 1 of Section 236 in Chapter 22 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act, it is stated that an illegal gaming house can be defined as any type of property where unlawful gaming is currently offered.
- Any person caught violating this section of the act will have to pay a fine of N1000 and might even spend up to two years in prison.
- You can also find the list of permitted gambling activities in this gambling act.
Lawful Gaming in Nigeria
Gambling types in Nigeria can be classified into three types which are:
- Pools and Betting
- Land Casinos
Nigerian Laws for Pools and Betting
Here’s the summary of gambling laws for pools and betting in Nigeria:
- According to the Nigerian Criminal Code Act, Subsection 3 of Section 239 of Chapter 22: “any house, room or place which is used for the purposes of a licensed pool betting business shall not be deemed to be a common betting house by reason only that it is so used.”
- This particular clause of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act allows pool and betting houses to operate provided that they’re offering those two gambling types only.
- Operators are required, under the Nigeria gambling law, to use a totalisator or pari-mutuel machine when trying to register bets and divide the total winnings to lucky bettors.
- Operators should also register their pool or betting houses with the Government in order to get a legal status.
- Operators who will not comply with this requirement will face prosecution, pay fines, or serve time in prison once caught.
Nigerian Laws for Lotteries
Here’s the summary of gambling laws for lotteries in Nigeria:
- The definition of lottery is it includes any game, device, or even method whereby money’s worth will be distributed in a manner to be determined by lot or chance, according to Chapter 22’s Section 240 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act.
- A lottery ticket may include any paper, ticket, or any other forms of a printed article that will give the owner the right to collect the cash prize if he luckily gets the winning combination.
- A public lottery simply means that everyone has access to that particular lottery.
- According to Section 240 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act, anyone caught acting as a middle man between lottery players and a public lottery will be fined and might even spend up to six months in prison.
Nigerian Laws for Land Casinos
Here’s the summary of gambling laws for land casinos in Nigeria:
- Nigeria only has three land-based casinos. Two of them are located in Lagos while the remaining one can be found in Abuja, which happens to be the country’s capital.
- These are the only three licensed casinos in Nigeria: The Federal Palace Hotel and Casino, Le Meridien Eko Hotel & Casino in Lagos, and the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja.
- These casinos might have a small collection of games but they provide enough entertainment to keep the locals and visitors always interested.
- The usually available table games in Nigerian casinos are Blackjack, Casino Hold’em, and American Roulette.
- Slot machines are also available in these Nigerian casinos.
- Only the three casinos are permitted to offer slot machines which are originally prohibited under the Nigerian gambling laws.
- There are only three licensed casinos in Nigeria since most of its citizens seem to prefer the sports betting type of gambling.
Illegal Gambling in Nigeria
These are some of the types of illegal gambling that Nigeria currently experiences:
- Football Mafia Bookies
- Underground Casinos
- Unauthorized Lotteries
- Illegal Betting Sites
In Nigeria Gambling Law, player protection is non-existent since participating in illegal gambling activities is also a crime. These are some of the reasons why it’s highly recommended to avoid playing at illegal gambling sites:
- Since it’s illegal, it’s very common for players to get scammed. If he wins, the operator can easily run away without giving the player his winnings.
- If the operator gets caught, the player might get involved, too. It’s a criminal offense so the player might even serve time in prison if he gets involved.
- It’s simply not worth it to spend money trying to win a prize that you might never get anyway, while risking your freedom and reputation as a law-abiding citizen in the process.
Sports Betting in Nigeria
According to Mr. Adolphus Ekpe, Director-General of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), sports betting is legal and well-regulated in Nigeria. He says that sports betting is an aspect of lottery and it only becomes gambling if it’s not properly regulated and monitored. Sports betting is basically lottery but the prize is based on the outcome of a sports event. It’s a legitimate scheme and the commission is working on improving the regulation of sports betting in the country.