Nigerian Government Pledges Support, Reveals Operation Plan for Sports Betting Operators amidst Covid-19 Pandemic

The Federal Government of Nigeria has met with the sport-betting operators concerning their sales report and how they intend to cope with the pandemic regulations.

An eye witness reported that one of the utmost concerns for the meeting was to reach an agreement with the operators to know how the tax payments, rules of operation, among other things, would be done. Among other matters of concern, FG has said that necessary support and even palliatives that might be needed by the betting operators would be given. Speaking on one of the importance of holding the meeting, the director of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), Mr Lanre Gbajabiamila, expresses his support. He said the meeting became necessary not only to ensure close contact with the operators but also to x-ray their operational challenges in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In attending to the issues ravaging the modus operandi of betting and warmth concern for the operators, the DG in his words to the operators said “I am optimistic that the Federal Government will not hesitate to give necessary approvals for any form of palliative that will ensure your business remains viable because ours is a very peculiar industry which if properly harnessed, would adequately shore up the much-needed revenue for the Government. Yours is to ensure that you all play by the rule, while on the part of the Government, we will do all it takes to give needed support for all business to remain viable.”

To make the meeting plainly and insightful as necessities beckon on the activities of the operators, the DG further stated: “As your regulator, we feel obliged to touch base with you, find out the challenges you are facing in your business and see how we can continue to work together, despite the difficulties occasioned by this ugly pandemic. Let me assure everyone that the Government will do the best it can to protect every business within the industry, and we cannot fold our arms and watch our industry with the huge investment therein go down the drain”.

The breakout of the pandemic in Nigeria has generally affected many sectors with the sporting not left out. This outbreak has made it pertinent also to safeguard the workings of the sporting operators. The operators expressed their concern that the lockdown, as well as social distancing, does not encourage business as usual at retail outlets; hence total online gaming has become inevitable. Some operators, though said they resorted to virtual gaming, but observed it was becoming much more challenging to break even.

In the task of finding a consensus of how FG intends to render support for the operators, there is the need to find a way to fine-tune the harshness unprecedentedly brought by the pandemic. This action was necessitated, keenly, by the fact that the Government requires the operators to pay remissions and dues. In place of this, the operators, therefore, came to the unanimous consensus, asking that they are granted a three years tax holiday, or at least reduce their taxes to 50%. They urged the Government not to introduce new taxes during this pandemic period, according to the facts gathered during the video section on the NLRC website.

As part of the conclusions reached in the meeting, the operators would resort to remote gaming. In showing their concerns for this and their supportive measures, the DG, Mr Gbajabiamila said that “the NLRC cannot deal with the menace alone; hence it is collaborating with the Nigerian Communication Commission, NCC, Nigeria Technological Development Agency, NITDA, as well as the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN to solve the problem of remote gaming.”

There is a high possibility of success if gambling operators embrace virtual gaming, as there have been success stories from their counterparts in South Africa. The pandemic, having tolled high in South Africa, has forced many casino operators to make more concerted efforts to shift towards the mobile channels, considering the lockdown and social distancing rule.

With the overhaul agreements and concerns, the sports betting operators signalled some problems of foreign betting. They consented to all the discussions during the meeting to see that both parties observed them keenly.

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