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The State of Gambling in Nigeria

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It’s all happening as Nigerian players get more choice

The gambling market in Nigeria has been growing quite rapidly in recent years. In land-casinos alone, gamblers are spending tens of millions. However, many Nigerians participate in other kinds of gambling, like lottery-buying, sports-betting, and online and mobile casinos. Online casinos based out of Nigeria are pretty much illegal, but there is not much stopping Nigerians from playing casino games from hosts in other countries.

The lay of the law

Getting familiar with some of the key laws that helped shape the way gambling is conducted in Nigeria will help to understand the Nigerian gambling scene. Here are a few of them:

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National Lottery Act

Created and implemented by the National Lottery Regulatory Commission in 2005, this law legalized the lottery in Nigeria. According to the Act, lotteries, casino games, and sports bets are all legal, whereas games based strictly on luck, like dice and card games, are not. The Act does not mention online gambling.

Gaming Machines Act of 1977

This Act states that using gaming machines for gambling, like those operated by coin or token, is illegal. There are no optional fines as a penalty for breaking this law, only a year of imprisonment; plus any proceeds of the machines will be taken by the government.

The Criminal Code Act of 1990

According to this act, “skill-based” land casino games are allowed, like roulette and blackjack, and sports, racing bets, and lotteries are acceptable too. But non-skill-based games aren’t. Any place that offers unlawful gaming is considered an illegal gaming house.

Legal Nigerian-Based Gambling

Because of these laws, there are three types of gambling based in Nigeria which are legally conducted:

Land-based Casinos

There are only three of these in the entire country, based in the major cities of Lagos and Abuja. These gambling centers are more for foreign tourists and business people. One reason there are so few of these is that getting a Nigerian land casino gambling license is very difficult. Plus they are quite small because of all the governmental gambling restrictions.

Traditional games like Roulette, Blackjack are played, and slots seem to be allowed even though games of chance should be prohibited. Although there are only three of them, these casinos still do very well, reaching a combined revenue of $60-70 million per year.

Betting and pools

While these types of gambling are allowed, there are some restrictive rules around them. Venues that offer pools must not offer other forms of gambling there and must use an approved totalisator machine to place bets and divide winnings. Such venues should be registered with the government to become legalized. If they are not, they may be fined.


With the lotto, participants can win cash or other prizes if their purchased paper tickets have a selected winning number.  Tickets may be sold for charity or fundraising only. Anyone caught selling lottery tickets as a third-party middle-man will be fined. The Lagos State Lotteries Board regulates the lotteries and other related games, like scratch cards.

Sports betting

This can be an enjoyable way to bet, making sports games of interest more exciting to watch. In Nigeria, soccer is the most popular sport by far, so naturally, it is the sport most betted on. Nigerians can bet on games played by leagues based in Africa, but also by leagues based across Europe. They especially love the English Premier League. Aside from soccer, European basketball and hockey are also heavily betted-on sports matches for Nigerians. Others include motorsports, basketball, cricket, and many others.

Because betting is legal in Nigeria, there are plenty of land-based sportsbooks that one can bet at. And there are also legal Nigerian online sportsbooks that are highly regulated and very successful, accruing thousands of site visitors per day. Nigerian betting sites are nice for locals to use because they appeal to what’s in popular demand in Nigeria, and use the local currency, Naira.

However, Nigerians may also choose to register many different accounts offshore so they can get the best deals and odds. There is limited control by government regulation in these matters.

Online casinos

People love online gambling, firstly because of its utter convenience. Especially in Nigeria where only three land-based casinos exist, this factor makes a big difference. Additionally, there are more special rewards offered for online players, like cashback promotions and special bonus incentives. NoDepositExplorer’s Emma Davis comments: “The games have been tried and tested by others, so you can be sure they are fair and that your privacy is protected.”

There seems to be confusion about what is legal and not in terms of online casinos in Nigeria. Although Nigerian-based online casinos are supposedly illegal, there are even online casinos specific only to Nigeria, like NairaGames Casino. However, it is much safer for Nigerians to go offshore for their casino gambling needs. There are no strict regulations to cause issues in this arena. Many of the well-established online casinos don’t accept Nigerian participants, but those which do get many of them and may even cater to Nigerians.

Mobile gambling

With the rampant ability to access online betting venues, comes an increase in mobile playing. Most of the popular online casinos provide a mobile app now, to make it easier for players on-the-go and boost overall convenience. At the very least, they will offer a mobile-compatible version of their site. Simply put, online gambling is now the norm, so the best casinos have an app.

Likewise, the trends that stand for online gambling, go for mobile gambling; Nigerians participate in this kind of gambling most of all and should be encouraged to use the apps of offshore sites. However, because Nigerian laws have not caught up with 21st-century technology, there is an “underground gambling market” which bypasses laws that are not regulated well.

The most common comment on Nigerian gambling is that laws and regulatory systems are outdated. Most locals are not going to the land-based casinos, like the Sun International Federal Palace. Because offshore online casinos are so convenient and legal for Nigerians to use, they have become a popular way Nigerians can gamble. However, with such limited government regulation with these, gamblers should be careful to only use reputable sites. Players from other countries who participate in offshore gambling may be more protected by their governments. Be aware!

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