The Director General of National Lottery Regulation Commission (NLRC), Adolphus Ekpe, has called for collaboration between the state and federal governments for Nigeria to harness the full revenue potential of the gaming industry. The director general spoke at a press briefing organised by NaijaBillionaire Limited to flag off its unprecedented 1Billionaire jackpot.
According to the NLRC boss, the enforcement tussle between the two major tiers of government has led to multiple taxation and licensing of operators which also results in excessive operation cost for the operators.
Ekpe said the gaming industry has the potential of bringing about N300 billion to the federal government coffers annually, but the ongoing rivalry between the two major stakeholders in the industry has seen it yield less than N7 billion as of 2016.
He stated that the federal government can earn annual revenue up to N50 billion from Naijabillionaire Limited while projecting that states can also share about same. To this end, Ekpe disclosed that the commission is out to recalibrate the Nigerian gaming industry to equitable benefit of all stakeholders across the country, with a determination to end the era of conflicts and dispute on licensing and permits. To achieve this, he said NLRC has set out to guarantee “smooth operation of federal licensees in every state of the federation to check multiple licensing and taxation. We are out to ensure all states benefit equitably from proceeds of national lottery operations by national licensees; to ensure that due process and rule of law is followed in conflict resolution; and create channels of communication and cooperation between state agencies and the federal government agency,”
On further steps being taken to harmonise both parties, Ekpe explained that “the NLRC is establishing an understanding with federal licensees to pay all local taxes or face federal sanctions. We are establishing an understanding with licensees to pay 5% withholding tax on every play to each state government based on activities in their states. We are also working on a National Lottery Operation Harmonisation Stakeholders Forum in partnership with the Nigerian Governors Forum to align all state interests.”
Chairman NaijaBillionaire Limited, Adedotun Sulaiman said the company comes with a national colour and global standard, and is designed by Nigerians for Nigerians. He said, “Our mission is to reinvent the entire African gaming industry with a focus on gaming experience that enrich lives and add value to businesses in the environment through integrity and transparency. Our jackpot of N1billion is unprecedented and will transform the lives.”
On his part, Director NaijaBillionaire Limited, Lai Labode said the Billionaire jackpot is designed to touch the lives of at least 1 million Nigerians directly every year.
He said the vision of the company perfectly fits with what NLRC wants to achieve by putting Nigeria on the global stage.
“We are ready to travel that path with NLRC and every state of the country. We will ensure that the states get the full benefit of every game played in their state. We are going to pay 5 percent withholding tax to the states on every game played. We therefore encourage the states to open accounts with us so they can get their dues. We have also established the NaijaBillionaire empowerment fund that will ensure we produce benevolent billionaires. The winner will empower 500 people from his home state with 5 percent of the N1 billion. The jackpot would move from state to state.
“We also have the NaijaBillionaire directly sponsored Corporate Social Responsibility with focus on health and education, to be funded with 1% of our revenue. There’s also the trade partners reward programme. We have establishes 83 trade territories across the country with a model that ensure that each trade territory is equally profitable. They have been mandated to pay their local taxes to ensure the state governments get what they deserve,” he said.