Online sports betting operator 1xBet has been issued a Nigerian gaming license, despite ongoing uncertainties regarding the government’s attitudes towards the local gaming industry.
This week, 1xBet celebrated the news that Nigeria’s National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC) had issued the company a National License, allowing 1xBet the right to offer sports and proposition wagering across all of Nigeria’s states and cities through the year 2024.
1xBet began life as a Russian gambling site but has since split into the domestic business and a Cyprus-based offshoot that caters to international markets. 1xBet has made Africa a primary target of its international expansion, with customer bases in Burundi, Cameroon, DR Congo, Ghana, Senegal, Uganda and Zambia.
Its license may have only come this week, but 1xBet already had a significant number of Nigerian clients, thanks in part to its sponsorship ties with the Nigerian Football Federation, the Nigerian Premier League and the Nigerian national team.
In December, local media reported 1xBet coming in at #40 on Alexa rankings of Nigerian website traffic. However, local operator Bet9ja remains the unquestioned betting industry traffic generator, ranking behind only Google and YouTube in Nigerian site visitation.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation with over 200m residents, many of whom are major fans of football betting. Last August, the News Agency of Nigeria reported that these bettors wager a total of N730b (US$2b) annually on sports, with an average of 14m individual online wagers placed each day.
Bet9ja reportedly controls 60% of the local betting market and the company announced plans last summer to expand into the local lottery market. However, Bet9ja can’t take its pole position for granted, as it had a run-in with the government last spring over allegations that the company had failed to remit its full financial obligations to the state.
In October, Nigeria’s House of Representatives informed the NLRC that it would receive additional powers to ensure accurate tax collection, including a new real-time central monitoring system for all gambling and lottery terminals. Only time will tell if Nigeria will remain a hospitable environment for its gambling operators, or whether the market will go the full Kenya in due course.