Nigeria Regulator Urges Lawmakers To 'Speed Up' Legal Amendments

February 18, 2022
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The head of Nigeria’s federal gambling regulator wants the National Assembly to speed up the introduction of an amendment to the National Lottery Act that would improve taxation and clamp down on unlicensed operators.

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The head of Nigeria’s federal gambling regulator wants the National Assembly to speed up the introduction of an amendment to the National Lottery Act that would improve taxation and clamp down on unlicensed operators.

The passage of the National Gambling Bill (HB 1288) will allow for the establishment of a long-awaited central monitoring system (CMS), according to the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC).

Lanre Gbajabiamila, director-general of the NLRC, wants the CMS to track online transactions in real time.

The regulator said this will allow it to monitor and better manage responsible gaming, tax control, money laundering, industry performance analysis, licensing, gaming odds and other statistics.

Gbajabiamila said the bill also covers “consumer sales promotion, online interactive games, scratch card games, online casino games, and mobile value-added service games for accountability and transparency in the industry”.

Femi Gbajabiamila, the speaker of the House of Representatives, represented by Peter Akpatason, the deputy leader of the House, said the bill is “deserving legislation” and urged lawmakers to hastily review it.

The complete National Gambling Bill has not yet been published; however, its contents have been discussed by lawmakers.

Akin Alabi, chairman of the House Committee on Governmental Affairs, which is currently reviewing the bill, called for more synergy between the federal and state regulators, another long-standing issue in Nigeria's gambling industry.

The lawmaker also took aim at illegal lottery operations and advised the regulator to come down heavily against remote gaming, as he claims the government is losing out on revenue to foreign illegal operators that are not being taxed, according to the regulator's report of the meeting.

Alabi is also the founder of NairaBET.com and has long championed the introduction of the bill during the previous public committee discussions.

“Foreign operators who have customers in Nigeria are not paying tax to Nigerian authorities,” he said during a committee meeting on February 9, according to local media reports.

A CMS was expected to be in place by early 2021, with a federal task force established in 2020 during the interim to try and recover an expected N8bn (€17.7m) in backdated gambling taxes.

In July 2021, George Akume, the minister of special duties and intergovernmental affairs, said Nigeria’s gambling industry generated less than N1bn (€2m) for the government in 2019, during a speech at the National Gaming Conference.

The government minister said the revenue was “not only disappointing” but also “unsustainable and unacceptable”.

Last year, Nigeria’s National Lottery Trust Fund (NLTF) also called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to help tackle corruption in the gambling industry and recover revenues owed to licensees it accused service providers of withholding.

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