Stakeholders warn Reps, FG against scrapping betting 

Elizabeth AtimeMay 9, 20244 min

The stakeholders said betting, lottery and gaming remain a veritable development instrument to make sports entertainment a revenue-spinning venture.

The Director General of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission, Mr Lanre Gbajabiamila; Deputy Director of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Sandra Agbor; and other stakeholders have warned against scrapping betting and gambling in Nigeria.

The stakeholders said betting, lottery and gaming remain a veritable development instrument to make sports entertainment a revenue-spinning venture.

These concerns were raised on Wednesday during an interactive session by the House of Representatives Committee on Inter-Governmental Affairs with the theme “Dangerous Effects of Sports/ Gambling in Nigeria” an interactive session with stakeholders in the Nigerian sports betting industry.

According to Agbor, 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 local and foreign companies.

“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,” she said.

On his part, Gbajabiamila said There are lots of benefits inherent in it. Sports betting has been a veritable tool for empowering Nigerians and giving gainful employment to our teeming youths. 

“The number of Nigerian youths employed in this ecosystem is huge. Very huge. The Commission in the recent past has brought experts to enlighten Nigerians on the benefits of sports betting and also to emphasize responsible gaming. 

“The slogan of our commission is lottery the right way. This connote the fact that not only does it generate revenue it is also sensitive to ensure that we don’t breed addicts,” he said.

Speaking, Head of Legal and Compliance and Stakeholders’ Engagement, KC Gaming Networks Ltd (Bet9ja), Adewale Akande, said the sports betting industry is rapidly expanding in Nigeria.

From a governmental perspective, banning sports betting eliminates a potential source of revenue through taxes and licensing fees, which could otherwise be allocated to various public services and projects.

“Additionally, prohibition may drive sports betting underground, leading to an increase in illegal gambling activities by unscrupulous operators and criminals, making regulation and control more challenging and costly for law enforcement. 

“For customers, the prohibition of sports betting denies them the freedom to engage in a popular form of entertainment and removes consumer protections inherent in a regulated market, such as ensuring fair odds, transparent transactions, and mechanisms for dispute resolution.

“Moreover, it may push individuals towards unregulated and potentially risky alternatives, leaving them vulnerable to fraud and exploitation. Overall, banning sports betting could deprive both the government and customers of benefits while creating additional challenges.

Earlier the Speaker of the House, Rep. Tajudeen Abbas who was represented by the Majority Leader, Rep. Julius Ihonvebere (APC, Edo) in his remarks noted that the public hearing is to put in place a legislative framework to mitigate the dangers of gambling and betting in the country as he expressed concern that youths are getting more involved and addicted to betting thereby putting their mental health at risk.

“In the ever-changing world advanced by digital innovations, people are on a daily basis engaging in highly risky games such as sports betting or gambling  by staking their enormously treasured possessions such as money, gold and houses   hoping to make accidental  gains and  chancing to get them back in multiple folds”

Elizabeth Atime

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