Arum: Strategic Actions Will Boost Capacity for Homegrown Gaming Technology

Executive Secretary/CEO, Enugu State Gaming and Lotto Commission, Prince Arinze, speaks about the recently concluded gaming conference in Enugu State and the need for proper regulation of gaming activities in the state and beyond to drive economic growth. Emma Okonji presents the excerpts

Enugu State Gaming and Lotto Commission just concluded its maiden gaming conference. What was the underlining drive to organise such conference?

We at Enugu State Gaming and Lotto Commission organised our maiden gaming conference with the underlying drive to achieve several key objectives including regulation and oversight with the aim of establishing a framework for regulating and overseeing gaming activities within Enugu State, thereby ensuring that these activities are conducted fairly and transparently. Secondly is about economic growth. We aimed to harness the potential of the gaming industry as a significant contributor to the state’s economy by generating revenue, creating jobs, and attracting investment. We were also driven by consumer protection. Here, we aimed to elicit discussions on how to adequately protect consumers by ensuring that gaming operators adhere to ethical standards and provide a safe and secure environment for participants. Again, we wanted to raise awareness and educate stakeholders about the benefits and risks associated with gaming, promoting responsible gaming practices. Finally, and as the theme suggests, we aimed to foster collaboration among industry players and the area our state has comparative advantage in the south east which is hospitality and tourism to encourage innovation and the adoption of best practices within the gaming sector. By addressing these areas, the conference aimed to lay a solid foundation for a thriving and well-regulated gaming industry in Enugu State.

To what extent do you feel the conference has impacted gaming industry in Nigeria?

The impact of the Enugu gaming conference on the gaming industry in Nigeria can be considered significant in several ways including in the area of increased awareness and visibility for the state and the south east region when it comes to viable gaming market in Nigeria. The conference likely heightened awareness of the gaming industry’s potential in Nigeria, bringing attention to its economic and social benefits. This visibility can attract more stakeholders, including investors, operators, and consumers.

Also, in the area of regulatory advancements, the event helped in discussing regulatory frameworks and best practices for the industry and likely influence the adoption of more robust regulations potentially across Nigeria. This can lead to a more transparent and fair gaming environment. Another area that saw prospects in terms of impact is in industry collaboration. There is no gainsaying that the conference provided a platform for industry players to network and collaborate, but it also created an avenue for us to showcase the opportunities for collaboration between the gaming industry and the hospitality industry as I mentioned earlier. Such interactions can lead to partnerships, innovation, and the sharing of ideas that can drive the industry forward as well as help us create the desired status of the preferred gaming tourism destination in Nigeria. In the area of consumer protection and responsible gaming, the interactions we had at the event on that topic was very robust and helped to lay emphasis on consumer protection and responsible gaming practices that can enhance the credibility of the industry. This can build trust among consumers and encourage more responsible participation in gaming activities. The most important is economic development. By promoting the gaming industry, the conference will surely contribute to economic development through job creation, revenue generation, and attracting investments for Enugu state. This can have a positive ripple effect on the broader economy.

Overall, the conference has the potential to catalyze growth and development in the gaming industry in Nigeria by addressing key issues, fostering collaboration, and promoting a well-regulated and responsible gaming environment.

Enugu Gaming Conference 2024 has come and gone, what are the expectations for 2025?

Following the conclusion of the Enugu Gaming Conference 2024, there are several key expectations for the 2025 edition, which will likely come up at same time next year. First, we expect an expanded participation from what we have witnessed in this edition. This increased attendance from local and international stakeholders, including regulators, operators, investors, and technology providers, will be a clear reflection of the growing interest in the gaming industry in Enugu State in particular and South-east in general. We also expect to review and communicate progress updates. We expect to have a comprehensive review of the progress made since the 2024 conference, highlighting achievements, challenges, and lessons learned. This will provide a basis for setting new goals and refining strategies for 2025.

In the next edition, we will surely lay more emphasis on advanced regulatory discussions, to further development and discussion of regulatory frameworks to ensure they keep pace with industry advancements. This includes addressing emerging trends, technologies, and potential regulatory challenges.

Another key area we’ll focus on is the innovative technologies and trends that currently define the industry. Showcasing the latest technologies and trends in the gaming industry, such as advancements in online gaming, mobile platforms, and blockchain applications, will provide participants with insights into future opportunities. In fact, the technology that powers the industry will form the main area of discussion and activities next edition. At this edition, the likes of Evolution SA and GameTec USA, who are technology solution providers for the industry, were on ground to showcase how their gaming solutions can power any gaming business. We expect to see more of that next edition. Of course, there would be enhanced networking opportunities, with more structured networking sessions to foster collaborations and partnerships among industry players, regulators, and other stakeholders.

Other areas that we will improve on next edition include: Responsible gaming, Economic impact discussions, Policy and legal updates, more Interactive workshops and panels, Strategic roadmap discussions for the future and development of a strategic roadmap outlining the future direction of the gaming industry in Enugu State, with clear objectives and milestones to ensure sustained growth and development. The 2025 conference is expected to build on the successes of this edition, driving further innovation, collaboration, and growth within the gaming industry in Enugu State and beyond.

Enugu State Gaming and Lotto Commission (ESGC) has been known in the past to have relied on cutting edge technology platform to manage revenue from gaming. Is that still the case currently?

Yes, we will continue to rely on cutting-edge technology platforms to manage revenue from gaming. The ongoing commitment to utilise advanced technology, ensures several key benefits in the areas of Efficient Revenue Management, Transparency and Accountability, Data Analytics, Regulatory Compliance, Enhanced User Experience, and Scalability. It’s a known fact that among state gaming regulators in Nigeria, Enugu state is next only to Lagos state in deploying cutting-edge technology for our operations in the Gaming scene.

Overall, the continued use of cutting-edge technology platforms by ESGC underscores its commitment to efficient revenue management, transparency, regulatory compliance, and enhancing the overall experience for stakeholders in the gaming industry.

With the technology advancement in the gaming industry, how equipped is ESGC to cope with your primary role of regulation in your state?

Enugu State Gaming and Lotto Commission (ESGC), is well-equipped to cope with its primary role of regulation in the state, thanks to several key factors driven by technological advancements in the gaming industry. These factors include: Advanced Monitoring Systems – where ESGC employs sophisticated monitoring systems that provide real-time data on gaming activities. These systems help the commission detect and address any irregularities promptly, ensuring compliance with regulations.

We also make use of data analytics and reporting tools to enable us analyse large volumes of data efficiently. The capability helps in identifying trends, spotting potential issues, and making data-driven decisions to enhance regulatory practices. We also rely on Automated Compliance Checks that allows us to automate many compliance checks, reducing the burden on regulatory staff and increasing the accuracy and efficiency of regulatory enforcement. Automated systems can flag non-compliance and facilitate swift corrective actions. Additionally, we make use of secure and transparent transactions using cutting-edge technology to ensure that all gaming transactions are secure and transparent. Technology is also playing a role in ESGC’s efforts to educate the public and stakeholders about responsible gaming practices, regulatory requirements, and consumer protection measures. Digital platforms and social media are being used to disseminate information widely.

In summary, ESGC’s adoption of advanced technology equips it with the tools and capabilities necessary to effectively regulate the gaming industry in Enugu State, ensuring that the industry operates within a robust, transparent, and fair regulatory framework.

What is your take on the best ways to monitor and regulate online gaming in Nigeria?

Monitoring and regulating online gaming in Nigeria require a comprehensive approach that combines robust technological infrastructure, clear regulatory frameworks, and active stakeholder engagement. A joint processes between the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC) and the states, currently regulating the sector, is desirable. Focus should be in implementing advanced technology for real-time monitoring to track online gaming activities in real-time. These systems can detect suspicious behavior, ensure compliance with regulations, and provide data analytics to inform regulatory decisions. Also, a clearly developed regulatory framework that will be established via comprehensive legislation that covers all aspects of online gaming, including licensing requirements, operational standards, and penalties for non-compliance, is very key. This framework will work through the harmonization of Laws in the industry to ensure harmonisation between national and state-level regulations to avoid conflicts and create a cohesive regulatory environment.

We noticed some foreign gaming technology providers at the last conference. What must be done to have homegrown gaming technology in Nigeria powering the sector?

To foster the development of homegrown gaming technology in Nigeria and enable it to power the sector, several strategic actions need to be taken. First, we need to invest in Research and Development (R&D) through government grants and incentives (like tax breaks) to local companies and startups that invest in R&D for gaming technology. This will encourage innovation and the development of indigenous solutions. We can also encourage collaborations between universities, research institutions, and industry players to drive innovation and the development of cutting-edge gaming technology. We also need to improve on our curriculum development by integrating gaming technology, software development, and related fields into the curriculum of higher education institutions. Establish specialised programmes and courses to build a skilled workforce even through vocational training and certification programmes focused on gaming technology, software development, and digital arts to equip individuals with practical skills. All these in addition to provision of access to funding, will encourage the establishment of venture capital funds that focus on investing in gaming technology startups. This can provide the necessary financial support for local entrepreneurs to develop their products. By implementing these strategies, Nigeria can create a conducive environment for the development of homegrown gaming technology, empowering local talent and driving the growth of the gaming sector.

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