Betting is legal in Nigeria1. It was reported in the year 2021 that the projected number of Nigerians who bet will hit 95.1 million by the year 2022. Nigerians reportedly spend about N730 billion on sports betting annually2. These bets are placed on sports ranging from football, basketball, hockey, racing, etc., amongst others.
The legalization of sports betting has given rise to the sprouting of many new betting companies, both locally and internationally. Some of these betting companies offer their bettors, highly tantalizing odds which become truly irresistible to members of the public. The emergence of these new companies as well as the high odds and stakes, have also given room for phony schemes which are set up to rip unsuspecting bettors of their hard-earned monies.
Some persons hold themselves out as seasoned 'handicappers" or leading "bookmakers" who have the ability to predict the outcomes of sports events. The "handicappers" predict the outcomes while the "bookmakers" accept wagers on games. This article seeks to look at the legal considerations involved in such schemes as well as the scams involved therein.
Read also: STARTING A BETTING COMPANY IN NIGERIA
SPORT BETTING SCAMS IN NIGERIA
Different sport betting scams exist in Nigeria today, and some of these are highlighted below:
- BOOKMAKER SITES
There is an emergence of a lot of fake betting websites on the internet. The operators of these websites make the contents of the website as well as the offers to bettors very appealing. In order to convince the unsuspecting bettors of the "legality" of the site, the site owners even allow the bettors to win and withdraw some of their monies in order to build their trust in the site. In order to frustrate subsequent attempts of bettors in accessing their funds, they come up with several tactics. They may even go as far as requesting that the bettors invest more money to enable them to withdraw the previous balance but never allow the bettors to withdraw. The identity of the bettors on the website can even be stolen through exploitation.
- EXPERT BETTING GROUPS
There is an abundance of scammers who act as real sports handicappers and are only out there to take advantage of people. They target social media sites where people are more likely to be populated in terms of membership. They communicate with unsuspecting users of social media accounts, and create a rapport through direct conversation before seeking payments or account details of the banks of such users, leveraging unduly on the trust that social networks provide to perpetrate their scams.
- BOOKMAKER SCAMS/SPORTS BOOK BETTING
A sportsbook is any organization that accepts bets on anything that a bet can be placed upon. The operations of the sportsbook are usually unregulated, and they are at liberty to operate as they deem fit. The modus operandi under this head is that the scammers try to engage bettors and convince them to buy in and contribute money in exchange for means to obtain inside winning knowledge from software, systems, or organizations. At this point, the scam gates are wide open.
Most sportsbooks make it mandatory for users to buy in to participate, pay big fees for information access, or are alternatively urged to pay high purchase costs for software that the scammers hold out to be smart. Once bettors commit to these companies, the company never reaches out, and the monies are gone.
- PREDICTION SOFTWARE
Betting has now transcended the level of instinct and is slowly advancing towards the use of numbers and algorithms in creating bets, similar to the stock market where traders continuously skim vast volumes of data to predict which direction, the numbers will move.
The scammers here offer software that is claimed to have the ability to predict the outcome of different sporting activities reliably and usually offer large profits or returns as a result of using the software.
These bets are usually conjectured after considering past trends and the various odds supplied by different bookies. Other factors are also considered in other sporting activities.
These scammers can use phishing, fraud as well as impersonation strategies despite the odds or likelihood of the bets failing.
- BETTING SYNDICATES
A scammer here would usually create a pool of other bettors as make-believe and put all the bettors at one forum, this may be a Whatsapp group. In this group, the arrangements made, usually involve an expert placing bets on behalf of the bettor(s). An upfront payment would usually be required in conjunction with payment in installments with a promise of percentage profit sharing. This never seems to be the case as the bettors never receive their monies back in any form.
- SPORT INVESTMENT SCAMS
Under this heading, the scammer would usually utilize the instrumentality or promise of an investment opportunity to lure unsuspecting individuals, corporate entities, retirees, and others to partake in investing in a company that is in the business of sports betting. Most times, the companies under which the scammers hide are non-existent. The scammers would make use of complex jargon and attract unsuspecting persons by promising high returns on investments, and upon the dawn of reality on unsuspecting members of the public, the scam has taken place.
Not all scams have to be fallen into. There are certain precautionary measures that can be taken in order to avert the incidence of scams. Some of these precautionary measures are:
- Conduct your research before investing or placing bets.
- Do not jump at or invest in offers that are too good to be true.
- Never share sensitive financial or personal information on social media.
- Report any suspicious site to Law Enforcement Agencies.
Generally, scams can be treated under the head of fraud and other criminal elements.
In the case of sports betting scams, there is a need to consult with a lawyer based on the peculiarity of the situation in which you find yourself. This will require the involvement
of your lawyer to the extent of reporting the matter to the requisite Law enforcement agencies, among others, and ensuring diligent prosecution of the said offense when discovered.
1. Betting became formally legalized in Nigeria in 2005 by the National Lottery Act
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.