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Lottery Act: Operators forum will contribute to the proposed amendment – Onwuka

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Chairman of the Nigerian Licensed Lottery Operators Forum, Chima Onwuka has said in Abuja on Thursday that the forum would contribute immensely to the proposed Lottery Act, 2017 amendment in the interest of the industry players.

Speaking after a meeting with the House Committee on Governmental Affairs, Mr Onwuka expressed optimism that the review of the Act, as it were, would not only rejig the industry, but takes care of double taxation and other incendiary levies which operators have been burdened with.

He said: “The essence of the meeting is basically to review the 2017 lottery act as amended to incorporate the new realities, the operators are going through and to remove some of the incessant conflict operators are having with Government regulators for proper means of regulation.

“They have set up a technical committee to review it and make sure that everybody; both the regulator and operators interests can be protected as well as government.

“For a long time, the law did not represent the fact that we are a fixed odd country not a jackpot country; most of the games in this country are fixed odds that is one area we want to look at.

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“We also want to the law to recognize the fact that every operator that goes into the market invest billions of aira in the business and there has to be a gestation period.

“There have to be a way the Government can partner through a joint account just like they have with oil companies they call the JB fund. It might not be money but let the Government come out openly to say a particular operator is licensed to be backed up instead of everyday, EFCC calling operators thieves.

“Let us have a complete law, let’s look at the taxation part of it, we pay State tax, local Government and at the Federal level. You also pay a percentage of your entire take which goes to the federal coffers.

“Lottery fund, there is 20%, there is annual subscription, there is good causes.

“Those are the areas we are seriously looking at.

According to him, the law need to be very succint on who regulate activities of operators, saying that the current situation has been a nightmare.

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“The issue of who has the authority to regulate, is it Federal or the State. When you pay to the Federal you also pay to the State.

“We have just done an inauguration, in talking about the value of lottery to Government, I think the Government should check with the National Bureau of Statistics to know the number of people the lottery industry is employing.

“Anywhere government can create employment, it is encouraged if lottery and its accessory businesses can employ about one million people directly and indirectly that is contributing a lot to the Government.

“The Government is also generating a lot of revenues, go to the website of the lottery trust fund and see how much what operators have paid to the Government in billions and check out what they have paid to Government in terms of tax to FIRS. Check out also what they have paid to State Governments.

“Late last year from the lottery fund of what they regulate just Lagos State Government. Lagos State lottery fund was able to give the Lagos State security fund N1b because Lagos State as of today has one of the best laws and environment for lottery. There is this conflict of who is to regulate and who not to regulate.

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Meanwhile, the Chairman, House Committee on Governmental Affairs Honorable Akin Alabi earlier in the meeting acknowledged that there were inadequacy in the laws that regulate activities of lottery operators.

“The meeting is about amending the National Lottery Act, which is a law that regulate the gambling industry in Nigeria.

“It is an act that a lot of practitioners in the industry from the operators to the regulators feel it is inadequate, not robust enough, feel it is outdated, and obsolete and it is not harnessing the power and the potentials in the industry. So we are forming a technical committee to review the act to come up with a bill that will be more comprehensive, robust and up to date to guard the industry.

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