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In recent times there has been lots of excitement about the African gaming market for reasons which are not farfetched, given its demographic asset, which presents a growth opportunity for many companies. Of the 53 African countries Nigeria is undoubtedly the largest market by virtue of its population making it the preferred investment destination for most gaming companies, but beyond the excitement about the industry and its prospects, what is the value of Nigeria’s gaming industry? Do we have any supporting data? As always we have looked to companies like PWC and a host of other institutions to guide us. For example PWC’s 2015 – 2019 gaming outlook while projecting that gaming revenues were up by 17%, based its projections on only 3 licensed casinos in Nigeria. In reality casinos occupy the lowest rung of the Nigerian gaming ladder, PWC’s gaming outlook distorts the impact of the industry and how it permeates our economic life. A cursory look at the assumptions indicates a lack of understanding or appreciation of the industry.
Traditionally gaming has been stigmatized in our climes but casinos and slot institutions have been the biggest victims of our selective moralization of the industry, while raffle draws and similar schemes have become widely accepted without so much thought as to the underlying fact that they are laundered forms of gambling. If the NLRC’s definition is anything to by it means that even the video games played with consoles or preloaded on the phones of our 133million mobile subscribers or those played on desk /laptops, promos, raffle draws by corporate organizations i.e. telcos , banks, fmcgs etc. form a significant portion of the industry ,though they run into billions of Naira every year they have never been considered as part of the industry.
In general we may have our reservations about sports betting we however subconsciously rationalize this type of wagering because it is tied to our passion for sports, in any case sports betting cannot survive on its own, it piggy bags on sports events. Interestingly while we consider Lotteries a form of gambling it has never really been stigmatized maybe because of its historical and religious roots.
Now that we have defined gambling in accordance with Nigeria’s law; as well as established that almost all Nigerians are involved at some level , what is the size of the gaming industry in Nigeria? How does it contribute to our GDP? Was is ever captured during the rebasing of the economy? If it was under which subsectors was it captured? under ICT, entertainment or tourism?