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Role of the Media in Curbing Betting Addiction

For a few years now, the rate of sports betting has been on a sharp increase, with millions of Nigerians engaging in such activities on a daily basis.

That increase has been catalysed by the shift from physical betting shops to online betting, as more Nigerians now have very easy access to the numerous online betting sites in the country.

Online betting has been propagated by several factors, including rising mobile penetration, better internet connection and the improving financial system of the country.

These factors have combined to produce the perfect recipe for the growth of sports betting in the country.

Sports betting isn’t exactly the most terrible thing in the world. It does have its advantages. The presence of many betting sites has boosted the Nigerian economy, just as it has created more employment opportunities for young Nigerians.

Also, sports betting has played its part in redirecting our youngsters away from social vices. It has provided a more legitimate option of making money.

However, herein lies the problem.

The fact that sports betting provides a seemingly easy route to wealth makes it extremely prone to being abused.

And unfortunately, there is a lot of sports betting abuse going on in Nigeria.

From underage betting to gambling addiction, Nigerians have fallen prey to the false promises of sports betting. The reality is that sports betting is not as lucrative as it looks on paper.

One can get lucky and make big winnings, but the majority of the time, people end up losing more money. This is what keeps the betting operators in business, and why there are now so many of them in Nigeria. If the business wasn’t profitable, they wouldn’t be rushing into it.

Curbing betting addiction in Nigeria requires a collective effort from all the stakeholders involved.

The government must enact laws that protect its citizens from betting vices, while the bookmakers must also be more responsible in their dealings with customers.

The media also has a big role to play in the fight against betting addiction.

Given that there are lots of betting companies in Nigeria, there are also numerous betting adverts in the media. There doesn’t seem to be any restrictions regarding betting advertisements.

Radio stations and TV houses run betting campaigns at any time of the day, even in the heart of the morning and afternoon when minors are more likely to be listening to radio or watching TV.

This is not right, as it tends to expose young people to betting at a very early age.

The Nigerian advertising authorities need to adopt a similar strategy for online betting as they have for alcohol-based adverts, which bans alcoholic campaigns from being aired on radio or TV until much later in the night.

Also, if the media must accept gambling adverts, the ad must come with a responsible gambling message.

The media must strive not to project sports betting as a means to getting quick money. They should rather promote it as an additional source of entertainment and stress the responsible gambling message.

Hopefully, regulatory bodies like the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria will up their game and pay more attention to the quality of gambling adverts being aired on radio, TV, billboards, newspapers and every other advertising medium.

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