How Oyo Drives IGR with Focus on Tax, Responsible Gaming

Iyke Bede captures didactic and convivial moments at the recent Annual Stakeholders’ Interactive Forum of the Oyo State Gaming Board, where the agency was officially acknowledged as one of the top five significant contributors to the Internally Generated Revenue of the state government

The Nigerian sports betting sector was evaluated at $2 billion in annual revenue generation in 2020. That same year, a report by the National Sports Industry Policy projected that the sector is expected to grow to $4.7 billion, provide over 10 million jobs and contribute between 1.5 and 3 per cent to national gross domestic product (GDP) over 10 years. 

This trend is actively unfolding as the number of gaming operators in Oyo State has increased from over 20 in 2019 to over 55 licensees regulated by the Oyo State Gaming and Lottery Board (OYSGB) today. 

Acknowledged as one of the top five agencies contributing significantly to the internally generated revenue of the Oyo government, OYSGB, at the recently held fifth edition of its Annual Stakeholders’ Interactive Forum, examined the gaming landscape with a focus on tax revenue, compliance, and sustainability for the economic viability of the state. 

“The Oyo state roadmap for sustainable development 2023 to 2027, crafted by His Excellency, Governor Seyi Makinde, in his brilliance and dubbed the Omituntun 2.0 Agenda, continues to be a guiding light for the Oyo State Gaming and Lottery Board. I am particularly interested in all the initiatives geared towards spurring economic growth,” Director-General of the OYSGB, Olajide Boladuro, noted. 

He added, “One crucial aspect of achieving economic development is through taxation. It plays a vital role in regulating the gaming industry, as it generates revenue for the government, however, taxation alone is not enough to build a sustainable gaming environment. 

“We must now also focus on the task of testing the societal, financial, and environmental impact of the gaming companies, societal and environmental issues that could impact gaming companies’ successes, and how gaming companies fit within the state’s threshold.” 

Boladuro stressed that the overall goal of the forum this year “is to showcase the potential of the gaming industry for sustainability through proper regulation, management, attention to changes in the market, and social attitudes. This is also bearing in mind that they need to be transparent, responsible, and considerate for the potential impact of consumers and society.” 

Tagged ‘Tax and Task: Building a Sustainable Gaming Environment’, the event staged at Golden Tulip, Jericho, Ibadan, attracted stakeholders to deliberate on pressing issues affecting the sector in the state. 

Launching the discourse with a keynote address, Secretary to the State Government, Prof Olanike Adeyemo, presented an overview of the gaming sector, highlighting growth trajectory and trends such as the broadening of the customer base to include the middle class, influx of foreign investors, partnerships, and increased regulation of the sector, and factors that fuel such growth. 

She also highlighted the challenges that include gambling addiction, cyber security, and double taxation stemming from jurisdictional tussles between the state and national regulatory bodies. To address some of these issues, a panel session employing a holistic approach through the perspectives of diverse experts was set up to proffer sustainable solutions. 

Composed of Executive Secretary of the Association of National Bookmakers (ANB), Olabimpe Akingba; Senior clinical psychologist at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Damola Ilesanmi; legal officer of Valex Advisory, Jumoke Odudimu; and legal officer of NairaBet, Zuma Oladele-Alabi, panellist took turn deliberating during the panel session themed ‘Building Sustainability Through Responsible Gaming Tools’.

Akingba highlighted the concerning trend of an increasing number of punters nearing addiction. She, however, noted that while addiction cannot be stopped, measures and systems should be established to guide punters for easy evaluation of addiction rates. 

To ensure compliance with responsible gaming, Odudimu opined that all stakeholders have a vital role in ensuring policies are implemented to reduce exposure to vulnerable age demographics through controlled advertising, review of advert content by regulators, temporal suspension of defaulting operators, implementing warning systems such as pop-up alerts on websites, providing gambling therapy, and for operators to view responsible gaming with an approach of CSR. 

In support of operators’ initiatives labelled as ‘self-regulated’, Akingba emphasised operators’ proactive measures that predate regulatory intervention of the regulators. Instead, she urged state and national regulatory bodies to harmonise the regulatory frameworks to provide an enabling environment for operators to work in while channelling efforts towards responsible gaming instead of the current clime that deals operators with a bad hand of over-taxation. 

Providing more insight, the moderator and Country Manager of Betano, Oyindamola Michaels, advised that an independent, responsible gaming association should be set up to oversee compliance with responsible gaming. That way, he believes the regulators and operators do not influence processes in their favour. 

Ilesanmi helped stakeholders understand the science behind general addiction patterns. He explained the early signs of gambling addiction using the dopamine reward system that eventually reaches a state of denial by the person with an addiction. He elucidated how economic hardship also plays a role in morphing an otherwise enjoyable process into one that serves as a gateway to aggression, substance abuse, and crime. 

“The fact about any form of addiction is if you are in denial of why, how, and the real fact of what is happening to you, the more you struggle to overcome the addiction, the reality is you are digging deeper. By that time, you will be impressed by yourself manipulating loved ones just to get funds,” Ilesanmi said. 

Oladele-Alabi recognised that reaching out to addicts to help them is a crucial step to ensuring the sector’s sustainability. She said, “It is more sustainable to have healthy gamblers than to have gamblers who spend all their money now. They become addicted and no longer able to spend again.” 

In the latest forum, Boladuro itemised the board’s milestones, which encompassed initiating the enumeration of all retail agents in the state, addressing local government-level tax enforcement on agents, and achieving a significant reduction in underage gambling.

In the fifth edition, Boladuro expressed optimism for sustained growth, anticipating a positive impact on the state’s IGR. He envisions an environment where operators and regulators coexist harmoniously, fostering continued development.

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