Nigeria –The National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC) of Nigeria has promised the country’s sports betting operators that it will look into ways to offer support to sportsbook licensees whose businesses were affected by the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.
Sports betting operators worldwide have been negatively affected by the pandemic, and betting options have been significantly limited due to the cancellation or postponement of major sporting events.
The NLRC announced that it would work together with the Nigerian government to make sure that the country’s gambling industry’s sports betting sub-sector would not suffer any unnecessary setbacks as a result of the outbreak.
During a video conference with the NLRC, sports betting licensees across Nigeria laid down several proposals that the government can look into to help protect the future of their business.
The proposals included a three-year tax holiday or at least 50% reduction in tax rates. In addition, they also called for the government to commit to not introducing new taxes until the crisis has passed.
“Let me assure that government will do the best it can to protect every business within the industry, we cannot fold our arms and watch our industry with the huge investment therein go down the drain,” Lanre Gbajabiamila, NLRC director general, said.
“I am optimistic that the federal government will not hesitate to give necessary approvals for any form of [assistance] 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 [government] revenue,” he added.
Operators also raised their concerns during the call regarding unlicensed operators in the country. They insisted that it is something that had impacted their retail businesses prior to and during the pandemic.
Gbajabiamila assured them that the NLRC remains steadfast in its resolve to stamp out unlicensed activity in the country. However, he added that the regulator lacks the resources necessary in dealing with illegal gambling activity on its own.
The NLRC, therefore, would have to convince Nigeria’s Communication Commission, the Nigerian Technological Development Agency, and the Central Bank of Nigeria to join the fight against illegal operators.