Of all the online activities available, sports betting was the first to really take hold in Nigeria, but casinos and other forms of gaming are rising in popularity as well. And seeing as there are so many restrictions in West African countries on betting and finding places to enjoy a quick hand of poker or a pull on the slots, it’s no surprise that online platforms have become the go-to for locals to be able to try the latest craze. It was a natural progression, no less.
Going back, Nigeria saw its first online casino back in 2013 when NairaGames launched their roulette platform. It delivered on its promise to offer simple, stripped-down, easy-to-play versions of the game with lucrative payouts and it quickly gained a loyal fan base. Based on the model of frequent and generous payouts (usually as soon as you enter the platform), a few other brands started to appear in Nigeria as well as other countries in the region.
Each platform was based on a simple premise: one type of game done properly. It makes sense that people needed to learn how to play the games; there are only three authorized casinos in Nigeria and their target audience are the tourists (and their dollars). Locals, however, needed to learn the basics of how online gaming works, and providing them with too many types of games would have just been information overload.
This tactic appeared to have worked as the number of people participating in online gaming has slowly increased over the past four years. There is still only a limited number of local-based companies offering their services and NairaGames underwent a makeover to come back with a bang. While this could be interpreted as a sign that this just isn’t the market for online casinos, it’s also unreasonable to think that all forms of online gaming should explode in the same way as sports betting has.
It’s true that compared to sports betting, online gaming doesn’t have anywhere near the same following, but as more and more millennials have access to the internet through smartphones, the lure of such platforms is increasing as are the numbers who are accessing it. Despite this, it’s unlikely to become as commonplace as sports betting simply because platforms aren’t only based in Nigeria and the surrounding areas, like their betting counterparts. However, the huge number of potential players is likely to be a strong draw for companies looking to expand their operations and provide incentives for players to sign up.
There are already some brands offering online gaming to those in the region and well-established brands such as PokerStars has launched their own apps, which offers a wide range of functionality by using a format that the people in the region are comfortable with. The only drawback would be that international platforms are unlikely to offer quite as many bonuses as West Africans have come to expect from online casinos, but based on recent promotions, it seems that they’re getting close. It should only be a matter of time before their market researchers adapt the format to attract more players from the area.