Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The Director General of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), Mr Lanre Gbajabiamila, Wednesday revealed that the nation loses billions of Naira to illegal lottery operators practicing on different platforms across the country.
Gbajabiamila, who raised the alarm in Abuja on Wednesday, warned that anyone caught operating illegal lottery scheme will face the wrath of the law
“The Federal Government is losing billions of naira to the illegal operators. We are sanitizing the industry because it will be unfair to allow the ponzi scheme scammers to continue to defraud Nigerians. If we allow the scammers to continue, it will affect the operators. Our zonal offices across the country have been fully equipped to monitor the activities of the illegal operators”.
The DG who spoke at the opening of a two-day training programme for staff of the NLRC and other stakeholders, said his Commission had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Communication Commission (NCC) to check the activities of the illegal lottery operators.
According to him, with the measures being put in place by the NLRC and the NCC, it would be difficult for illegal operators to defraud unsuspecting members of the public without being apprehended.
His words “We are committed to enforcing the laws and ensuring that the operators comply with the regulations. We still carried out some enforcement last week and we will continue to do that. We are actually after the online operators because many of them are operating illegally.
“We have signed an MoU with the National Communications Commission to knock out any illegal operator that is not registered with the NLRC. The NCC has been mandated to shut the illegal operators down on our behalf”.
He said lottery has advanced in terms of technology, to the extent that it could be done on mobile phones anywhere rather than going to any retail centre to play it.
Also speaking, Permanent Secretary, Special Duties in the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Festus Dauda, said lottery has continued to gain acceptability in the country.
The “gambling” stigma, he said, attached to lottery players is now being relaxed, especially in the Northern part of the country.
According to him, “Lottery includes sports betting and promotion activities by manufacturers and network providers. Lottery is bigger than the oil industry that the nation has in stock, a lot of wealth that is yet to be tapped.
“I believe that if we focus our energy on lottery, and make sure that the entire citizenry are well aware of the activities of lottery and the gains that abound in lottery, the sky will be our starting point and lottery will even overtake the oil industry in contributing its quota to the treasury.
“The Federal Government is trying its best to make sure that lottery gets its rightful place so that we would be able to tap into the abundant resources that are there in lottery.
“Government is doing everything possible to make sure that the illegal operators and quacks in the industry are eliminated. That is why we have the regulatory commission in place which is now putting in place, measures to make sure that all the illegal operators and quacks would be apprehended and prosecuted”, the Permanent Secretary further said.