The legal landscape around sports betting in Nigeria has rapidly evolved in recent years. With increasing interest in online wagering, it’s important for bettors to understand the current laws, regulations, and rules governing sports gambling in the country.
In this guide, I’ll provide an overview of the legal status of sports betting in Nigeria, the regulatory framework, and key rules every bettor should know to ensure full compliance.
Sports Betting’s Legal Status
While essentially prohibited earlier, Nigeria legalized sports betting in 2018 through the National Lottery Regulatory Commission Act alongside land-based and online casino gaming. Licenses became mandatory for operators.
The NLRC Act brought sports betting into a strict regulatory regime rather than an outright ban. Individual bettors face no penalties for placing wagers through licensed platforms. Operators lacking permits were given a grace period to regularize.
Several international brands have acquired operating licenses in Nigeria like Bet9ja, BetKing, Betway and 1xBet. Strict regulations aim to protect consumers.
The National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC) is empowered under the Act to regulate Nigeria’s sports betting industry with the following key oversight powers:
- Issue sports betting operating licenses and impose penalties for violations
- Ensure compliance by licensees with rules and regulations
- Approve which sporting events licensees can offer betting on
- Audit licensees to check regulatory adherence and player protections
- Set guidelines around advertising, responsible gambling and more
The NLRC maintains a public registry of licensed operators on its website. Unlicensed sites and apps are illegal to use in Nigeria.
Key Rules and Limitations
Licensed sportsbooks in Nigeria must adhere to regulations including:
- Must verify player identity and age before registering accounts
- Banking and payment methods must meet anti-money laundering standards
- Betting odds and rules should be clearly displayed without deception
- Licensed events, markets and bet types allowed by the Commission
- Implement responsible gambling like self-exclusion and deposit limits
- Prohibition on extending credit or loans to punters
Sportsbooks must also contribute a prescribed percentage of gross gaming revenue to a central welfare fund for good causes.
Age and Identity Verification
Per NLRC rules, only those 18+ are permitted to bet. Operators must conduct Know Your Customer (KYC) checks during account creation by:
- Requiring legal name, address, email, phone number
- Verifying details against official government ID like national ID card, driver’s license or passport
Proof of residence using utility bills may also be mandated by some operators. Anonymous betting is prohibited.
Restricted Events and Markets
Certain sports and leagues are completely prohibited for wagering under NLRC regulations like:
- Local league games between Nigerian clubs/teams
- Youth categories in any sport like FIFA U17 World Cup
- Olympics and Commonwealth Games
- Reality TV shows and entertainment novelty events
Other high-risk markets may be restricted selectively based on approvals like political elections, financial instruments or spotted competitions. Operators must geo-block bettors from placing wagers when located outside Nigeria.