By Ezra Ukanwa – Abuja
The Director General of National Lottery Regulatory Commission, NLRC, Mr. Lanre Gbajabiamila, has said that the newly launched National Game would boost the revenue generation of the country.
This is even as he noted that the commission has been working with the 2005 Lottery Act Bill, which he claimed is outdated, urged the Federal Government, FG, to fasten the promulgation of a new lottery bill in other to capture some of the deficiencies faced in the 2005 lottery Act Bill.
The DG, NLRC, stated this during the launch of a new national game, organised by the NLRC, on Monday, at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, in Abuja.
According to him, we have a population of about 200 million and our operators; our agents, and players participate in foreign games. So, why can’t we have our own? It is a legacy project and it is something that we need and it’s going to enhance the revenue of the country as well because our present operators, yes, they have their own games;
“They have their indoor games, they have their Ghana games and we just felt like we need to have a national game and embrace that just for the prosperity and to help government because government cannot do it alone so hence why this legacy project and it is the first in Nigeria and I think we all need to to embrace it and wish it the best”, he added.
While drawing examples of countries around the world that have benefited from lottery initiatives, the Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Sen George Akume noted that despite the misinterpretation of the lottery, many governments have used its proceeds to develop their countries.
Describing the project as best for Nigeria, he stated that the project would deliver greater revenue for the Federal Government and develop national assets.
He, however, urged critical stakeholders to be patriotic in the lottery program and synergise with the commission to ensure growth.
He said: “As we all are aware, Nigeria is currently exploring other means to widen and strengthen its revenue streams in order to fund its annual budgets rather than resort to borrowing. Hence the compelling need for the Federal Goverment to look beyond Oil and Gas, taxation etc. to sustain the Nigerian economy.
“The occasion of the formal Launch of the Nigeria National Game is thus very strategic and the Federal Ministry of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs is delighted to witness this initiative become a Reality. It represents the fulfillment of one of two very important milestones.
“Let me take this opportunity to call for the urgent implementation of the Lottery Central Monitoring System as the second milestone.
“It is noteworthy to state here that Gaming/Lottery proceeds have been used over the decades in developing national assets, building infrastructure and other social amenities that benefit mankind.
“Lottery/Gaming is a of chance where participants may win a prize be it monetary or otherwise. Whether the player wins a prize or not, it is expected that proceeds realized from playing the game(s) will be to projects that will benefit the player directly or indirectly be it building of hospitals, schools, sinking water boreholes, scholarships etc. in his/her area of residence.”
MEANWHILE, the Honourable speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, during his remark, noted that “the launch of the national lottery would make the country become part of the long global history of state franchise and state owned national lotteries, providing jobs and contributing significant sums to the public purse.
While noting that it is imperative for the national lottery to operate under a robust regulatory framework underpinned by statute, pointed out that the national gaming Bill 2020 is undergoing consideration in the National Assembly.
He, therefore, appealed to the operator and the regulator to ensure that the national game is managed to the highest integrity as it is a primary determinant of success.
He said: “The most important of these is the public faith that anybody who buys a ticket can be a winner. Without this faith, people will not contribute to the lottery pool by purchasing tickets. It is therefore incumbent upon the operator and the regulator to ensure that national game is managed to the highest integrity as this is the primary determinant of success.
“Additionally, it is necessary to have a robust practical and responsive regulatory framework underpinned by statute. This is the stated intention behind the national gaming Bill 2020 being considered presently in the National Assembly. This legislation will accommodate all stakeholders interests, define the payroll taxes, and address identified problems concerning lottery operations and the general regulation of the gaming industry in Nigeria.
“The beam will also place the national game on a firmer footing and create the necessary conditions for the gaming industry to operate responsibly and profitably.”
He urged the NLRC and the national game consultants, Elrae technologies, to be proactive in implementing mechanisms to ensure responsible gaming.