House C’ttee Seeks Central Monitoring System for Sports Betting in Nigeria

Juliet Akoje in Abuja

The House of Representatives Committee on Intergovernmental Affairs has called for the establishment of a central monitoring system for the sports betting industry in the country.

The Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Canice Moore Chukwugoze Nwachukwu, during its session yesterday said the committee was not going to call for the shutting down of the sector but must ensure it follows laid down rules so it does not become inimical to society.

Nwachukwu said: “We are all Nigerians. We would not go against people doing their business. The have rights to exercise their franchise. But what we are saying is that we have to play within the rules of the game. We have to arm the system to control and enforce all the provisions that would allow gaming and betting to flow smoothly without becoming a social menace.

“I am not going to be here to say we are going to shut gaming and betting and people operating in that sector. What we would do is to make sure there is a level playing ground whereby all the mechanisms that should be out in place to ensure it does not become inimical to the society. 

We have to play by the rules of engagement. That comes to the issue of a central monitoring system. It must be introduced. This is going to a reasonable extent help is solved some of the problems we are having now

“By the time we have the system in place some of these stories would become history. It is not going to be completely eradicated but to a reasonable extent it will solve some of these issues.”

The Deputy Director of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Sandra Agbor, stated that while awaiting the review and passage of the Nigerian Lottery Regulatory Commission Act 2005, the president should enact an Executive Order on the dangers of sports betting in Nigeria.

While outlining contributions of sports betting to the economy, she said Nigerians plough about $2 billion a year into sports betting.

According to her, “The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has imposed a 7.5 percent value-added tax (VAT) on betting activities in the country. The contribution of sports betting to the national economy is huge and cannot be ignored. The number of betting companies operating in Nigeria has provided more employment opportunities, with thousands of Nigerians now working for both the local and foreign companies.”

Agbor further said: “Sports betting companies have aided the Nigerian economy by forming partnerships and signing sponsorship deals with several organizations, both in the sports and entertainment industries. The Nigerian sports betting market is rapidly developing, and this has a positive effect on the economy.

“The industry can attract investors, create new jobs, and generate more revenue to the national purse. The negative effects should be factored into the design of a holistic response that will protect the underage, prevent fraud, and confront addiction in Nigeria.”

Also, the Director-General of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission, Mr. Lanre Gbajabiamila, said lottery and gaming remains a veritable development instrument to make sports entertainment a revenue spinning venture.

Represented by the Director, Licencing and Operation, Obi Yeregu, he stressed that the commission has put in a lot of measures to mitigate the adverse effects of sports betting.

“There are lots of benefits inherent in it. The sports betting has been a veritable tool of empowering Nigerians and giving gainful employment to our teeming youths. The number of Nigerian youths employed in this ecosystem is huge. The commission in recent past has brought experts to enlighten Nigerians on the benefits of sports betting and also to emphasize on responsible gaming,” he stated.

Also, the Head of Legal and Compliance and Stakeholders’ Engagement, KC Gaming Networks Limited (Bet9ja), Adewale Akande, said sports betting industry is rapidly expanding in Nigeria, and it has been a huge source of revenue to the government at all levels as well as huge employers of labour.

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