By Victoria Ojeme
The Lottery Operators Forum have stated that the lottery industry in the country is worth an estimated $70 billion, noting that Nigerians spent an estimated N154bn on betting by 7.5 million lotteries and 22m sports betting players in 2016 alone.
The lottery operators also raised the alarm over the high mortality rate of lottery firms, stating that over-regulation, double taxation, high cost template and corruption were killing the business in the country.
Speaking at a one-day public forum on the operations of the lottery industry in Nigeria at the weekend in Abuja, the LOF Chairman, Chima Nwankwo said though the industry is a money spinner, many lottery investors had shut down their operations due to the influx of illegal operators and deviation from statutory guidelines by the regulator.
He explained that many lottery investors had decided to forego their N50 million lottery license due to the unfavourable business climate in the country.
He said, “Many lottery operators have shut down on account of the unfavourable business climate in the country. A friend told me that the worst N50m he spent was spent on a lottery license. Today, he has shut down the business and throw in the towel. We need to find a way to reach the government, the regulator and the betting public to evolve a win-win situation.”
Nwankwo admonished the government to address the burden of taxation on the lottery operators by the federal, state and local governments, noting that it was challenging for the lottery firms to break even.
In his presentation at the forum, the representative of People Empowerment Lotto, Oni Johnson described lottery industry as one of the most lucrative shines on earth, noting that it is a major source of wealth distribution.
He said there is need to take stock of the challenges and problems encountered by the operators, lapses from the government and the future outlook of the industry to save it from collapse.
“Lottery is said to worth $70billion and it is no longer news that in 2016, it was estimated that Nigerians spent an average of N154bn on betting with 7.5 million lotteries, and 22 million sports betting players in the country.,” he noted.
Johnson added, “Despite the fact that we have National Lottery Regulatory Commission to regulate lottery business in Nigeria in line with National Lottery Regulatory Act 2005, it is unfortunate that the National licensed operators are faced with regulations from the states.
“Some states have taken their legal backing from Taxes and Level (Approved List of Collection) Act 1998; They claimed that the issue of lottery was not stated in the exclusive legislative list and also not stated in concurrent legislative list in line with the Second Schedule, Section 4 of 1999 Constitution, thus they can make laws by their state assembly to fully regulate lottery.”
The National Union of Lottery Agents and Employees representative, David Omaghomi said the lottery industry is not getting the requisite attention from the government noting that it could serve as a major source of revenue for the nation.