"Betting on the Future: Sports Betting as an Unconventional Solution to Youth Unemployment in Nigeria"

Omofaye and Adeniji share their takes on sports betting in Nigeria.

 Bet9ja betting application opened in a phone in a football stadium
  • Omofaye: The sports betting industry is recycled armed robbery
  • Adeniji: Sports betting isn’t gambling, it’s trading in sports like the cryptocurrency market


With Nigeria’s inflation rate jumping to a historic high of 33.2% which was last recorded in 1996 and varying figures of youth unemployment, it might be time to consider other sources of revenue and employment for the country to reclaim its title as the Giant of Africa. The Nigerian sports betting industry is only ten years old, but what are the chances that it could be an unconventional solution to youth unemployment in Nigeria?

SportsBoom sat down with renowned Business Anchor, Boason Omofaye and I-gaming professional, Adekunle Adeniji, a founding employee of Bet9ja, to share their views on this topic.

Sports Betting Taxation and Revenue Generation 

What’s your assessment of the current tax revenue generated by the sports betting industry in Nigeria when compared to other sectors or industries?

Omofaye: Nigeria needs every form of legal revenue that it can generate as a country, but while the government seems to have fixed its attention on sports betting as a sports-loving country, we have a bit of a problem that must be fixed. By the way, I'm not a fan of betting, I'm against betting as a principle. However, speaking as a business journalist from an economic point of view, we are putting so much sports betting around international football, when we need to promote our own country.

You don’t sound very optimistic about this industry improving youth unemployment. Is that the case?

Omofaye: We need to find a way to ensure that our youth are meaningfully engaged and I don’t think it’s fair that our youth will have to depend on looking for a small amount of money just to go engage in sports betting, hoping that they will make more money. Where is the sense of dignity of labour? Can we really stand up in the committee of nations and say that we have a population of youth that can lead this country forward through sports betting?

Sustainability of wealth comes from capital market investment, from companies going to the capital market, and from people creating wealth. How do you create wealth through sports betting? How do we descend to such a level in which some government officials will begin to promote sports betting as a way of job creation in their environment? It's appalling, to put it mildly. Take a look at inflation! We're talking about food inflation at 40% in a country that has one of the highest levels of arable land on planet Earth, not just in Africa.

Would you be more open to the industry if it was combined with other sustainable forms of employment?

Omofaye: Nigeria is a developing country in which poverty is endemic. If I have a job as a broadcaster and I'm paying my payee the personal income tax to the government and I'm paying Value Added Tax (VAT) on my consumption every day, I'm contributing to the revenue in every way possible. Hence, I'm creating wealth. We've got an army of youths looking to make basic ends meet by trying out sports betting. That is a poverty-induced betting culture.

If the government opts to earmark a portion of the tax revenue from sports betting for specific social or economic development programs and asks for your insight, would you be comfortable recommending the most effective and impactful areas to allocate these funds?

Omofaye: As long as we have unfixed water, unfixed classrooms, and insufficient hospitals, for these young people with young brains plus agility born into the 21st century, the government has failed in its duty to provide. Diverting attention that should go into these necessities is recycled armed robbery.

Sports Betting for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

I-gaming professional, Adekunle Adeniji started his career as a founding employee of Bet9ja,co-founded Bet King, and is an Ex-MD at Bet Bonanza. As a success story in the budding industry, he is keen on changing the negative perceptions of the industry and building and leveraging on the prospects to tackle youth unemployment.

With your background as a founding employee of Bet9ja and how you’ve climbed the sports betting industry ladder, do you think this industry could be a solution for youth unemployment?

Adeniji: I think the industry which we call the i-gaming industry, has made its mark when it comes to employment opportunities. In Bet9ja for instance, it employs 1000 - 3500 staff directly and about 30,000- 50,000 staff indirectly. So, we are definitely solving the unemployment problem gradually, considering the fact that it's still a budding industry.

Another aspect that cannot be overlooked is the effort to develop local software products to promote local supply which, once achieved will result in 80% of the revenue generation in the industry locally.

Looking at how you went from founding employee to co-founder, etc, do you think that this industry could be a potential goldmine for entrepreneurship and innovation when it comes to opportunities for the Nigerian Youth?

Adeniji: There aren't enough professionals in the industry, but I can say that in order to do what I've done, some level of experience is required. I think a lot of people have tried their luck in starting up sports betting platforms in the last 4- 5 years and at least 70% of those businesses are dead.

The reason is that they lacked the technicality and number of years needed to garner the experience to keep a new platform afloat. For instance, I was part of the founding employees of Bet9ja, I put in all my effort to help grow the business and in the process of helping them to grow, I learned and grew internally. I gave myself 5 years and I put in all the effort to hit the
target and I did.

What can be done to encourage youth to see more opportunities in the industry?

Adeniji: I think a significant number of youths are already taking advantage of the industry in a positive way. I don’t like when people refer to it as gambling, I would rather it were seen as trading in sports, which is similar to what happens in the crypto currency market. In sports trading, I look at the team I want to put my money on and consider various factors like, an injured player, etc.

Then, I put my money in the sports trade, based on my observations and predictions. There needs to be more education, as opposed to labeling sports traders as gamblers. There should be an emphasis on promoting the industry, regulating it a little bit more and enlightening people on responsible gaming. That’s what it should be.


While offering unconventional employment opportunities, Nigeria's budding sports betting industry sparks contrasting views on its viability as a solution to youth unemployment. While some see prospects for entrepreneurship and innovation, others raise concerns about promoting a gambling culture over sustainable solutions.

The key lies in striking a balance– harnessing the industry's economic potential through robust regulation, responsible gaming education, and a long-term vision for comprehensive youth empowerment. Only then can this emerging sector complement Nigeria's efforts to tackle joblessness among its youth.

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