Abuja – The Federal Government is targeting N25 billion as annual revenue from lottery operators in the country, the Minister of Special Duties, Prof. Taoheed Adedoja, said in Abuja.
Adedoja made the declaration while inaugurating a joint police and National Lottery Regulatory Commission enforcement team on Tuesday.
`We currently make about N1 billion a year from lottery earnings, but lottery has the potential to bring in N25 billion a year.
`So out target now is to ensure that we generate N25 billion a year from lottery,” the minister said.
According to him, lottery operators are supposed to give back 50 per cent of their earnings as prizes to participants while 20 per cent goes to the government and the operators keep 30 per cent.
He said that lottery was a multi-billion naira business, proceeds of which could be used for the development of the education, health, sports and several other sectors if properly handled.
Adedoja, however, expressed regret that the huge revenue expected from the lottery business was becoming a mirage because of the activities of illegal lottery operators.
He said the inauguration of the joint team was a signal to both illegal operators and those who were licensed but refused to play by the law that the era of illegality was over.
The minister challenged the team to be fair but firm in the discharge of its duties.
In his remarks, the Director-General of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission, Mr Peter Igho, decried the situation where several promotional announcements promised to give out billions of naira as prizes only to defraud the people.
He said the agency was committed to ensuring that lottery operators played the game by the rules or faced the consequences.
“If you go to a place like America today, and there are many states in America that run the lottery; for every lottery you play, a minimum of 20 per cent must come to a trust fund, which is used to impart on the public again.
“In other words, when you run the lottery, 70 per cent of the revenue must go back to the people. That is why today you have edifices like the Great Wall of China. Harvard University and Yale University have been built with lottery money.
“It can happen in this country, provided people are honest and play lottery with integrity.
“We are telling them today that whether they do or not, we would talk to them to do the right thing; but if they don’t, we will enforce the law.
Earlier, the Director, Enforcement and Compliance, National Lottery Regulatory Commission, Mr Sajo Mohammed, had said that the commission’s mandate would not be achieved in an environment devoid of enforcement.
Mohammed said the team would begin the fight against illegal lottery operators immediately, as it would no longer be business as usual.
“Lottery must be operated with the highest level of integrity, transparency and propriety. It must be run fairly in a well regulated environment.
“The menace of illegal lottery operators would be checked though arrest, confiscations, seizures, seal-ups and prosecution of offenders in law courts.”
The National Lottery Regulatory Act 2005, the law regulating lottery business in Nigeria, mandates the National Lottery Commission to regulate lottery operation and business in the country. (NAN)