By Adeola Badru, Ibadan

Oyo State Gaming Board, on Wednesday, engaged gaming operators and other stakeholders on better ways to improve gaming businesses.

In her remarks at the forum, the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs Olubamiwo Adeosun, declared that the state government prioritised the welfare of its citizens over revenue generation.

“The welfare of our people is what we need to be saying continuously,
and even though we recognize that what the games do is boosting the revenue of the state.

“But it is very clear that even as we pursue the revenue drive and not just in gaming but everywhere, we ensure that the interest of the people is always considered first.

“Putting the people first is one of the key agenda items so dear to Gov Seyi Makinde, so we are not going to create a situation whereby because we are looking for the revenue or seeking to increase revenue to help the people, we impoverished the people,” she said.

The SSG further maintained that all that the present administration had been doing since it came on board; whether in education, health, security and agribusiness, were centred on people.

She commended the state gaming board for organising the meeting, saying the board has brought up very pertinent issues that needed to be addressed.

According to her, the theme of the stakeholder’s interactive forum, ‘Redefining Responsible Gaming’ will guide the operators, the regulators “and even the gamers on the best practices.

“It will also find the balance between generating revenue for the state and maintaining the mental welfare of the people of Oyo State.

“In addition, it will redefine the entire culture of gambling to accommodate only fun and entertainment.”

The Director-General of the board, Mr Olajide Boladuro, said the forum with the theme – ‘Redefining Responsible Gaming’ was necessary as part of the activities to regulate the gaming industry.

According to Boladuro, the gaming and lottery industry is gaining attraction in the country.

“Based on the prospects of the industry, the board has taken it upon itself to address the issue of responsible gambling in the state.”

“While we are excited to tap into the enormous revenue potentials that the industry present, our priority is to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.”

“Problem and responsible gambling is a constant focus of ongoing research and advancement worldwide,” Boladuro said.

The DG added that the importance of proactive responsible gaming programmes was paramount as a result of the recent market studies estimating that the global casino market alone would expand at a compounded annual growth rate of 10 per cent over the next five years.

He expressed optimism that discussions from the forum would chart a new and better path for the operators and other stakeholders in the gaming industry.

One of the operators, a House of Representatives member, Mr Akin Alabi of Nairabet Sports Game, said the forum was the first of its kind in the state, describing it as the right way to go, “because the industry is relatively new and it is a very dynamic industry.”

“We have to stay on top of it, and we have to be abreast of the development, thus the forum has brought different people together to formulate policies that will move the industry forward.”

Alabi urged the Gaming board to come up with a very strong policy that the operators must adhere to.

He added that the operators too must start to regulate themselves through the formulation of policies, rules and regulations.

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