One of the fashions that is taking the youth sub-culture like wildfire in Nigeria today is the art of football lottery.
The art of sports lottery and football lottery, in particular, has been a global phenomenon, especially in western countries with organised and successful sporting programs. It is a multi-billion pound industry in England and the USA.
The introduction of the European football leagues on TV in Nigeria and the large followership that ensued promoted the business of sports lottery. A lot of investors came on board while a lot of fans have been initiated into the lottery with some making huge sums of money from it.
Football lottery has no doubt created a lot of job opportunities for the Nigerian youths who run betting outlets as agents. However, on the flip side, it has opened the door to crime and some anti-social acts which if not controlled, can have a negative social and spiritual effect on the youths in the future.
The industry has been licensed by the Nigerian Lottery Commission and so it is legal to engage in sports betting in Nigeria. However, there is a need to sensitize the youths on the social and spiritual consequences of betting which falls under the ignoble act of ‘gambling’.
The English online dictionary defines gambling as “an activity characterised by a balance between winning and losing that is governed by a mixture of skill and chance, usually with money wagered on the outcome”.
Therefore, lottery or football betting is gambling and the youths need to be conscientious on the fact that the legal license to participate in betting does not confer on them the moral licence to do so because both Christianity and Islam forbid gambling.
As a sports journalist and a big Liverpool fan, I have been tempted to go into betting on matches in most European leagues, but it didn’t just catch my fancy. Even though I have made some attempts in the past, albeit without success, my heart is just not in football betting.
But I have seen friends and relatives who are deep into the habit and I have noticed that such a habit might gradually develop into a character and could ruin the life of an individual in the future.
From the experiences of some great personalities in Europe and America where sports betting has been in practice long before it entered our clime, there is a strong correlation between alcoholism, drugs and gambling.
The likes of boxing great Mike Tyson, basketball legend Magic Johnson, Tiger Woods and football legend Paul Gascoigne, ended their careers badly with either alcohol, drugs and gambling being the culprit.
Paul Gascoigne, in particular, had a premature retirement from football as a Newcastle FC great. He lived a very controversial life of drugs alcohol and crime. He gambled to feed his craving and in so doing violated the laws oftentimes.
“George Best was known for his incredible soccer skills and his even greater ability to drink. After his long career with Manchester United, Best was loaned out to several other teams in order to draw fans. He would consistently miss practices and did not have a passion for the game. His alcoholism eventually led to an early and unfortunate death”, a source revealed.
Although, several betters in Nigeria would boast of the huge financial benefits, they hardly take stock of its social and spiritual implication.
Stories abound of youths who won a huge amount of monies but used it on alcohol and women. Those who were wise enough to invest on a property had gone back after squandering the rest, to sell those properties at incredibly low prices just to continue the fun or put the proceeds into betting.
Others have been scammed or robbed of what they won from the lottery.
Truly speaking, football lottery initiates one into a habit that becomes difficult to break out from and exposes one to some social anomalies and ultimately separates one from God.
That is why the Bible and Quran warn against gambling.
According to biblestudytools.com
, “many Christians wonder if gambling is a sin and what the Bible has to say about it. While casinos, lotteries, and other of today’s get rich quick games aren’t specifically mentioned within the Bible, God has still warned against the temptation. Most often when people gamble it is because they become addicted to the love of money. A simple game can become a sin when it takes over our minds and hearts and leads us down a road of never being satisfied”.
Several Bible verses warn against gambling and also explain why God encourages us to stay away from it.
According to 1Timothy 6:9-10, “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs”.
Also, the first commandment given to Moses by God reads: “You shall have no other gods before me”- Exodus 29:3.
Wikipedia also has it that, “It is stated in the Quran that games of chance, including maisir, are a “grave sin” and “abominations of Satan’s handiwork”. It is also mentioned in ahadith. They ask you about wine and gambling. Say: ‘In them, both lies grave sin, though some benefit, to mankind”.
It is clear from the foregoing that because gambling has the capacity to mislead people, that is why God frowns against it. But if one is not convinced of the dangers of football lottery, do a little research on great football betters in Europe and America and see how they ended.