The question is, are we creating a sustainable, balanced experience in the Nigerian online/mobile gambling space? There is excitement with the influx of igaming in the country and the revenue generating opportunities that come with it; but the truth is that, if we don’t value responsible gambling or do something about ensuring its practice, in the next 2 to 3 years, the crystal meth (mkpuru mmiri) drug menace ravaging among the youths, will be child’s play compared to that of gambling problems. Even the operators will also be heavily affected.
Better a healthy player that continues to play occasionally, than an unhealthy player that plays incessantly but will burn out in a year or two.
While the issues of minor and illegal gambling is not a hidden thing, the blatant and coordinated manner in which it occurs in the country, both online and in communities, has raised this problem to a level that now requires major state and federal attention.
Since online gambling (sportsbetting, casino etc) skyrocketed in the country, statistics and reports have shown that, millions of people are now wagering/betting more frequently, than when it was all land based. The gambling industry is doing a great job at advertising and selling gambling products and showcasing all the estimated monies that can be won by playing; on the other hand, the government have also done an excellent job of highlighting, how much revenue can be generated from tax, all while emphasizing on ‘good causes’ as the end that justifies it all.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the government and industry’s efforts to minimise the amount of advertising, people are swamped with on a daily basis, both online and offline or on providing physical tools and information to people, about gambling related harms and how they can stop or get help.
Sports famous figures and Social media influencers; some of whose contents attract under age gamers, are all out promoting betting, as the new order of the day, without recourse to ensuring responsible gambling.
Why People Gamble
People gamble for different reasons, some because it is exciting, fun and part of entertainment (social aspect), so they gamble for the euphoria and adrenaline rush. Some gamble because they are competitive and impulsive in nature and enjoy taking risks.
Some people play for various other reasons; some play to escape life’s various challenges and trauma (emotional issues) and a lot of people gamble for the money (financial issues); they have come to see gambling as a hustle, a means of livelihood and a quick fix for all their financial problems.
How Does Gambling Addiction Start
Gambling addiction like any other addiction, starts gradually, with the affected person always believing that they are in control, until it’s too late. Gambling is like a normal social activity, until the player becomes unable to control the gambling habit, which often lead to psychological, physical and social repercussions.
Unlike other addictions like drug and alcohol, gambling addiction is often overlooked for a long time, because it is not easily recognisable. This addiction can wear suit and tie, look fresh and healthy, be a CEO, lawyer, medical doctor, teachers, even officers. In-fact compulsive gambling was not considered an addiction until the late 1980’s.
Anything that alters your mood can become addictive. Abusing gambling play whether for money, the thrill or to escape life’s challenges, can damage one’s mental health and relationships. They often say that what excites the most can pose the greatest danger.
When a player starts lying about how much he lost and heightening the amount he won, it’s time to re-evaluate the choices, as it’s a clear path to gambling problems. Also you find yourself accumulating debts from gambling and then begging, borrowing or even stealing, to pay off the debts and then gamble some more, there is definitely a problem.
When gambling loses the fun part and you find yourself feeling stressed and anxious about gambling but can’t stop yourself, thus putting yourself in further financial debt and trouble, then you are clearly becoming or are already addicted.
Gaming/gambling is meant to be fun but once your relationships starts suffering as a result; when you allocate time for other things to gambling or start using gambling as a coping mechanism to deal with stress and unpleasant experiences; then it’s time to stop and reset or seek help, if you can’t seem to stop.
How to Help:
With the expansion of online gambling, and numerous advertisement online, promoting one form of gambling or the other, the best way to help is to make sure that people have the right information and tools to maintain a healthy and safe relationship with all forms of gambling.
There is need to create avenues and resources to help people to positively restart their life after experiencing gambling harm and to initiate best practices for addressing gambling harm and promoting safer gambling.
You can help as a player by avoiding certain things; when betting on sporting events, avoid betting on in-play activities; like who will be the next team to score; whether a specific event will happen in the next 30 minutes etc. simply avoid betting where there is a shortened wait time, between the bets placed and results.
Once a person becomes addicted, quitting is often out of their hands without proper intervention, much like substance addiction. Gambling for adults is legal however, it is vital to ensure that people are safe, doing it.
The issues associated with the industry like player protection, minor exclusion and protection, AML and KYC, needs to be constantly addressed, resolved and implemented. It should not all be talk as usual with the government and other creators and encouragers of gaming harm, without any provision of necessary policies or physical tools to help drive positive change.
Young people need to be made aware that there are free tools and support available, to overcome any gambling problem and set them on the right part.
GAMING IS FUN! PLAY RESPONSIBLY AND DON’T PLAY IF YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO LOSE!!