Operators of the sports betting companies in the country rose from a stakeholders’ summit in Lagos at the weekend, calling on both the federal and state governments to do something on the double taxation currently strangulating the sector.
The summit organised by the Association of Nigerian Bookmakers (ANB) at the Sheraton Hotel in Ikeja, Lagos, had top stakeholders in the gaming and betting industry, which included the operators, players, police, tax experts, Inland Revenue service officials, regulators at state and federal levels and licensed agents within and outside Lagos in attendance.
Acting Chairman of ANB, Akin Alabi, who also doubles as the founder of NairaBet.com, insisted that operators of the sports betting industry were in dilemma over whom to pay taxes.
“Each state is insisting they are in charge of gaming and betting while the National Lottery Regulatory Commission is also saying that they are the ones in charge. So who do we pay to? Do we pay twice? It’s a major reason why we convened this summit,” observed the ANB chief at the summit.
Alabi insisted that by the time these double taxations are added to the company taxes that the operators of sports betting companies pay, the magnitude of the problems being faced can be imagined.
“So, it’s strangulating our businesses coupled with forex issues. So we need to be sure who we pay to avoid these double taxations currently killing our business,” Alabi pleaded.
“In an industry that is not coordinated and regulated, there are bound to be charlatans all over the place, running away with people’s money. But if it’s regulated, people pay their taxes and there are good financial standings, the public will have confidence in us and want to do business with us,” Alabi added.
“It’s a growing industry; we’ve been noticed and we can’t hide again. Everybody knows something is going on there but it’s like we are sitting on a keg of gunpowder. One day if we don’t come together and nurture the industry, things might not go on well,” he warned.
Also speaking at the summit, the Managing Director of Surebet247.com, Sheriff Olaniyan, also lamented on the matter of double taxation but remained hopeful that since regulators of the industry were well represented at the summit, solution are likely to be found for the problem.
“Double taxation is a critical issue that we must tackle for the industry to move forward. If we do this (summit) every year, it’s going to be a major step forward in the industry. With the way the federal and state officials are tackling the issue of double taxation, I believe we can have a single tax payment solution,” he noted with optimism.
While revealing the benefits that are inherent is a well regulated sports betting industry, Olaniyan agreed that the Nigerian experience is a growing one.