Nigeria is home to one of the largest gambling markets in Africa, second only to South Africa in terms of annual revenue, but first on the continent in growth rate. A growing economy, increasing mobile penetration and betting-friendly laws have all combined to create a robust business environment for Nigerian betting sites.
Gambling laws in Nigeria permit sports betting and casino gambling both online and in the real world, although various state laws also play a role in shaping things at the state level. At the national level, Nigerian gambling sites are perfectly legal as long as they hold active licenses and only offer permitted forms of gambling.
We’ll dive into the laws to great detail in a moment, but for anyone who came looking for quick answers: online betting is legal in Nigeria and there are indeed locally-licensed and headquartered betting sites that are available to Nigerians. In addition to local online betting sites in Nigeria, a large number of international gambling sites also accept customers from Nigeria.
Best Nigeria Betting Sites
Nigerian Gambling Laws
Nigeria regulates gambling at both the national and state levels. The Nigerian Criminal Code serves as the basis for which all forms of gambling are declared legal or illegal. Chapter 22 of the criminal code specifies that sports betting, casino games and lottery games are legal, while poker and other forms of gambling are prohibited.
Chapter 22 States
“Unlawful gaming includes roulette, every game of dice except backgammon, every game of cards which is not a game of skill, the game known as chacha and other games of cowries, and any game the chances of which are not alike favourable to all the players including the banker or other person or persons by whom the game is managed or against whom the other players stake, play or bet.”
The Criminal Code also calls for minor penalties for illegal gambling in Nigeria. Anyone found participating in illegal gambling can be fined up to 10 naira for the first offence and a fine of up to 40 naira plus up to 3 months of imprisonment for each subsequent offence. Those who operate illegal gambling businesses face stiffer penalties of up to 1,000 Naira and up to two years of imprisonment.
Going by the Criminal Code alone, one would assume games such as roulette are illegal across Nigeria. This is not the case as there are a handful of licensed casinos and betting sites in Nigeria that offer real money roulette and other games of chance such as slots.
The Gaming Machines (Prohibition) Act of 1977 likewise gives the impression that all games of chance are illegal. This is also not the case as the government itself has licensed three brick-and-mortar casinos with slots and roulette games. Likewise, the State of Lagos has issued numerous licenses to online betting sites.
The federal government has not yet updated its laws to address online gambling, but at least two states have. Both Lagos and Osun now license online betting sites in Nigeria. Lagos serves as the largest provider of online gambling licenses, followed by the State of Osun. Most Nigerian gambling sites are licensed in Lagos, but Bet9ja holds a gaming license in Osun as well.
The Lagos State Lotteries Board maintains a list of licensed betting sites here. You can check that list any time to see which providers are actually licensed in Nigeria and have the blessing of the government to accept real money wagers.
Unlicensed foreign betting sites operate contrary to the law in Nigeria, but to date the laws have not yet been updated to apply to individual people. Thus, the people have the option to bet online at licensed sites or take their business to overseas operators without legal risk.
Nigeria Online Sports Betting Sites
The legality of online sports betting in Nigeria has always been clear thanks to the Criminal Code as explained above. Most Nigerian sports betting sites are now licensed in Lagos but are permitted to offer their services in most other states as well.
In general, there are two types of sports betting sites you can use in Nigeria. First, there are online betting sites that are headquartered in Nigeria that hold local licenses. The advantages to these locally licensed Nigeria betting sites are:
- They are unquestionably legal
- They understand the Nigerian market and cater to Nigerians
- They support popular payment methods in Nigeria
- Customer service is based locally
- Some of these sites also have physical offices that you can visit in person
The other option you have is to visit betting sites that are licensed in other parts of the world, but not in Nigeria. These other sites are not located here and their legal status is questionable at best. However, they also have their own advantages:
- They are operated by highly experience gambling professionals
- They may offer better odds on sports
- They offer additional forms of gambling such as online poker
Nigeria Online Casino Sites
Nigerian betting sites licensed in Lagos also offer casino games to go along with their sports betting services. Sites such as Bet9ja, Nairabet and 1960Bet are all licensed by the Lagos State Lotteries Board and also provide casino games including slots, roulette, blackjack and more.
In my experience, the online casinos offered by local betting sites are limited in scope. Their games are limited in number and seem to function more as afterthoughts rather than full-fledged casinos. International gambling sites such as ComeOn have much larger and higher-quality casinos.
If your primary focus is on sports betting with just the occasional casino game, Nigerian gambling sites should suit your purposes just fine. Just know that the game selection will be somewhat limited and there will be smaller jackpots on offer.
If casino games are your main focus, you may want to consider an international gambling site licensed elsewhere. Foreign casinos have hundreds of games, larger jackpots and higher quality software. Federal laws do not anywhere state that it is a crime to play at foreign gambling sites, but you should check your local state laws before you play online just to be safe.
Betting Online with Naira
One of the biggest advantages of doing business with gambling sites licensed in Nigeria is the ability to deposit, play and withdraw in Naira. Offshore betting sites perform currency exchanges on your behalf, which is nice, but it forces you to play in a foreign currency.
You will also find that betting sites headquartered in Nigeria are intimately familiar with the local banking system and understand the most popular methods for moving money around. Thus, you will find it much easier to deposit to a local gambling sites versus a site headquartered overseas.
For example, Bet9ja in Nigeria supports deposits via Interswitch, EmailMoni, GT Bank, Paycom, instant bank transfers through the country’s largest banks, ATMs, Quickteller and Skye Bank mobile. Other Nigeria betting sites support similar deposit methods.
When you’re finished gambling, you can cash out your winnings by requesting a transfer straight to your bank account. In most cases, the money is credited to your account within 24 hours of requesting a withdrawal.
Wes Burns has more than a decade’s worth of experience as a writer, researcher, and analyst in the legal online betting industry and is co-founder of OnlineBettingSites.com. Wes approaches his work from the viewpoint of players.