Nigeria is a country with bright cosmopolitan centers such as Lagos, and also has beautiful and varied countryside. The land is made up of dense rainforests, and grassy plains, along with miles of coastline.
While Nigeria may not instantly spring to mind when you think of beach holidays, the country has over 850 kilometers of land that meets the Gulf of Guinea. This includes some beautiful white sandy beaches and world-class surf in some areas.
The country itself is the most populous in all of Africa, and yet is only about 1.5 times the size of Texas. Where the Lone Star State has a total population of 25 million, the former capital of Nigeria, Lagos, has 21 million living there alone.
The population of Nigeria stood at over 210 million in 2020 and is steadily rising. Tourists arriving in the nation will find that English is spoken widely, and there are many activities to enjoy.
Does Nigeria have a lot of tourism then?
Covid has curtailed what was a steadily increasing number of tourists arriving in Nigeria. National parks, wildlife, exciting nightlife, and natural attractions, have all been drawing people to visit the country over the last few years.
The country was on track to become an alternative destination to some of its African rivals, such as South Africa. Indeed, there were already more people visiting Nigeria than in Tanzania before the pandemic. In 1995, just over 1 million people visited Nigeria but by 2010, that number had risen to well over 6 million tourist arrivals.
For many, another reason to visit is the nation’s casinos. As the country tries to re-establish itself as a place for tourists, all possible attractions will need to be used. For many people, a vacation isn’t complete without some fun in a casino hotel or resort.
If Nigeria was to use its casinos as a draw in the same way that Sun City does for South Africa, then it would have to be able to compete. Is the country ready for that?
Is gambling legal in Nigeria?
For casino tourism to work in Nigeria, there would need to be a number of quality casino hotels and resorts. The laws would also have to be welcoming to foreign visitors, and ideally, domestic tourists also. If not, then people will look to neighboring countries, and perhaps further afield on the continent.
Countries such as Morocco and Tanzania can easily attract visitors to their casino resorts. Both of these countries have legalized many forms of gambling, with Morocco being surprisingly relaxed about the activity. This is perhaps more astonishing when you consider the country is largely Islamic.
Gambling laws in Nigeria are somewhat stricter. Certain games of chance such as roulette and dice are not allowed, although they may appear in licensed casinos. Slot machines are strictly regulated as is the online market. However, there are no laws about where people may enjoy online betting.
This means that anyone wanting to play online slots in an offshore casino while in Nigeria is free to do so. But online casinos cannot be hosted within the country.
What is the state of the casino industry in Nigeria?
Several cities have licenses to run casinos, and there are now a number of choices for players to choose from. While Nigeria may not be able to match the bright lights of Las Vegas quite yet, there are some big-name businesses involved in the casino industry there.
The Hilton corporation has a site in the capital, Abuja. Sun International, Le Meridien, and Sheraton, all have interests in the casino industry in Nigeria. It is clear then that this is no fly-by-night, amateur operation happening.
In fact, the Federal Palace Hotel & Casino in Lagos is a five-star resort that would grace any list of best casinos in the whole of the continent. There are also many illegal casinos across the country which as a tourist would be well avoided.
Many locals choose to bet online instead of visiting land-based establishments. Perhaps because of the convenience or increased choice in betting markets. Websites such as Caesars, BetMGM, and lvbet.com, are all available to Nigerians and tourists.
What are the biggest countries for casinos in Africa?
Looking at the rivals to Nigeria when it comes to tourism, the initial competition would be the neighboring countries.
Chad, Niger, Cameroon, and Benin, all allow gambling. Chad has very limited options, and there is only one land-based casino that can be visited. Online gambling has yet to be regulated, and Chad is not a recommended tourist destination. Niger suffers from similar dangers to Chad and is also not a good destination for tourists.
Cameroon on the other hand does attract tourists, has around 360 km of coastline, and has legal gambling. The choices, while more limited than Nigeria, are the most impressive of the neighbors.
Realistically, when you look at the best casinos in Africa, you probably have to start down South. On any list of the most popular casino resorts in the world, you would expect to see sites from Vegas, Macau, and South Africa on it. At least one from the latter anyway.
Sun City is probably the most famous casino resort in Africa, but it isn’t the only impressive one. Tanzania has a good choice with perhaps the Le Grande Casino in Dar es Salaam the number one pick. Egypt, Morocco, and Dakar, also have fine casino resorts that draw foreign visitors to their tables.
Is Nigeria safe for a casino vacation?
At the time of writing, Covid was still presenting challenges and issues to tourism around the world. The number one priority of course is the safety of the residents of Nigeria, and its visitors. Anyone traveling to the country should look for the latest news on quarantines and travel restrictions.
As for the country itself, in recent years Nigeria has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons on occasion. There are some very dangerous attractions across Africa and are not really fit for tourists. While many parts of Nigeria are safe, such as Enugu, others may not be so.
Many countries have recommended only essential travel to Nigeria due to crime and civil unrest, but a casino resort visit can be very safe in itself.
The best casino hotels and resorts in Nigeria have everything a person would need for a complete package holiday without the need for travel outside. There are family-friendly casino hotels with swimming pools, restaurants, bars, tennis courts, and fitness centers. Some of these are within short distances to beaches too.
As far as gambling laws are concerned, Nigeria is reasonably relaxed. While it may not be as open to all forms of gambling as much as say, the UK is, all major bases are covered.
From a tourist point of view, while Nigeria is still an emerging nation in this area, there is much to recommend it. Lagos has little-known but truly world-class waves for surfers. It has grilled meats (suya), jollof rice, and spicy pepper soup for food lovers.
The beauty of Gashaka-Gumti National Park will wow nature lovers, and of course, Abuja and Lagos have a nightlife to rival any cosmopolitan city in Africa.
Grills, lounges, bars, and clubs fill the cities, as of course do casinos in some. Nigeria might be behind South Africa at the moment, but as tourism develops, it might not be for too long.