Betting has, no doubt, come to stay. It has especially become a lifestyle for most youths in Lagos State, with its enticing reward of quick and easy money. AUGUSTA OTTI and CHEKWUBE CHUKWUMA write
oth young and older ones have come to embrace betting business as a normal routine way of getting income for sustenance, while others spend the little they have on bets.
In the areas of Lagos populated with low income earners such as Orile, Ijora, Ajegunle and its environs, New Telegraph found it to be a lucrative business and a source of livelihood for some residents, mostly youths.
The betting companies such as Bet9ja, Bet King, Merry Bet offer coupons for soccer games, virtual games and zoom. New Telegraph observed that the soccer game which involves staking on the odds of various football team seem to be most popular among the youth; they predict the outcome of the English league, European competition and the German league among others in order to win money.
On the other hand, Baba Ijebu is a lotto where the players pick a number and the person with the lucky number becomes the winner.
With the economic recession, many of the youths have resorted to betting away their youthful age to the extent that gambling businesses and football betting have become a full time job for some of them as they spend their time judiciously monitoring their stakes.
New Telegraph observed that these betting centres are abundant in the aforementioned areas. As a matter of fact, it is almost impossible to pass two streets without coming across any “Baba Ijebu” outlet. Youths between the ages of 18 and 40, including adults, troop in and out of these gambling centres on daily basis.
Kingsley Ibeh, a Bet9ja player, told New Telegraph that, “winning is hard. I have won few times but I play because it just a game and reward for passion of football. It is not something I play every time. There are various things you can bet on, you can even predict the outcome of the US election and stake on it.
“Whenever I’m with my phone, I just like to try it because it’s cheap and I might win. You can stake with as low as N100. Once you stake N100, you will accumulate so many games to get a substantial amount of money like N10, 000 but more often than not, you will lose. People who stake with higher amounts are likely to win more than those who stake with lower amounts.”
He added that, “there are no jobs for the youth. Betting could be profitable which one could use to maintain oneself. I have used money from Bet9ja to pay my rent more than four times. Before these bets came out, there was lotto. So, it’s not something new. The main problem the youth have is playing the virtual game; I won’t advice anyone to play it. The virtual game is a fast betting which you just play and you see your result. The game is on every three minutes. If you win, they pay immediately. If you lose, you lose. Because the game is always on, you keep playing but it is not so with the soccer games which you have to wait for a whole day to know the result.”
In a chat with Oduyoye Tolani, a Bet9ja agent in Ijora, she told New Telegraph that betting is gamble, so people win and lose, though the numbers of those who lose are more than those who win and the number of times they win. Describing her job, she said, “I play the game for people; they stake depending on the odds. I’m having challenges working here because most of these guys who come to bet are touts. Sometimes, they just come and start shouting at me but I’m getting used to it now.”
She added that she wouldn’t advise anyone she cares about to start betting, saying that, “it’s a very dangerous game. It’s like a spirit. When you start playing it, you won’t want to go out from there. You would want to finish all the money with you and you would be getting angry because you are losing. But it is my job; I can’t advice people not play it. I would just do it for them.”
Chidiebere Izuogu, a regular Bet9ja player in Orile, said he will stop playing the game if he wins up to N1million. In his words, “I’m still playing this game because I have not won big money from it. There was one time I was supposed to win N1.7million. I would have stopped betting if I had won that money.”
He added that he wouldn’t consider any money he wins from betting free or easy money because he too has lost countless times to Bet9ja.
Speaking on if he would advise his loved ones to engage in the game, he retorted that he wouldn’t. He added, “I wouldn’t advise someone I know or care about to start betting because it sets people back. Why I’m playing this is because I don’t have anyone to help me, like sending me to school, provide for my basic needs and the rest. You can’t go and ask someone for money in this present economy to give you money and the person will just give it to you.
“The category of game I would not even attempted is the virtual game, popularly called ‘baby’. It is fast money. So, you keep playing and playing till your pocket dries out and it’s when your money finishes that your eyes becomes clear. I call that game ‘spirit’. It’s not good at all. Bet9ja soccer game is better because you have to wait almost the whole day before you can know if you won or lost before deciding to play again”.
He also said that, “I work and bet but some people have used Bet9ja as their jobs, they don’t work. They are there from morning till night and the game these kind of people play is not Bet9ja but Baby.”
Happiness Gideon, said she hates all forms of gambling. She said: “My elder brother bets. When he loses, which is most of the time, he comes home irritable and angry, shouting at the slightest provocation. He even goes as far as destroying things at sight!”
Wasiu Olaiya said he would not engage in betting first because his religion (Islam) forbids it and because it is naturally a game of risk which is not good. He added that people who bet are likely to become lazy. He said, “people who bet do not value hard work because they are convinced that whatever they could get from working hard, they could get it with just one bet and this is why some of the youths have become lazy.”