BetWinner Director Calls for Clearer Gaming Taxation Laws

For some time now, sports betting operators in Nigeria have been grappling with the issue of multiple taxation involving both state regulatory bodies and federal regulators. Although the case is still in court, operators feel the full impact of paying these taxes while running their businesses.

While some operators have closed down, others still establish themselves in the industry. For the established operators, it’s a waiting game until matters are resolved amicably between the two jurisdictions.

GAMING WEEK, in a recent interview with the Director of BetWinner Nigeria, Maha Otu, inquired into the intricacies of running the gaming outfit amid the jurisdiction wars, her recommendations to regulators, and her unique approach to tackling the gambling menace.

Otu recognises the importance of establishing unified taxation laws for gaming companies across federal and state levels. In her assertions, she emphasises the need for consistency and clarity in taxation processes. She states,

“One of our primary lobbying efforts is to encourage federal and state governments to establish consistent taxation processes for gaming companies. This would provide much-needed clarity and stability for operators, enabling us to plan and operate more effectively.”

“It’s a very sensitive topic, and it’s a battle we keep going back and forth with. We (BetWinner) had initial issues: they said that if we have the federal licence, since we are operating online, we don’t need it (state licence), but Lagos State insisted that we needed it since our office is in Lagos. And because we’re very compliant and we didn’t want any issues, we got the Lagos State licence, and we have the Oyo State licence as well.”

Otu stressed that “it’s a battle that’s been on for years now, and we hope it ends soon because we are on the receiving end of it” and that “at the end of the day, we just try our best to ensure that we still are able to survive through that because we can’t put our business on hold until there are any verdicts.”

She added, – “So, we just have to try and ensure that we survive through it.

In addition to taxation, Otu is committed to advocating for stronger regulations to prevent underage gambling. She believes that protecting minors from the potential harms of gambling is paramount and talks about “pushing for more robust measures to prevent underage individuals from accessing gambling platforms,” including implementing stricter age verification processes and enhancing educational campaigns to raise awareness about the risks of underage gambling.

Her advocacy extends beyond BetWinner Nigeria. She actively engages with industry stakeholders, government officials, and regulatory bodies to promote policies that uphold responsible gaming practices and ensure a level playing field for all operators in the gaming sector while prioritising consumer protection and industry integrity.

Otu also thinks the federal government should prioritise operators with a presence in Nigeria over foreign operators granted special licences to operate only in the country. She notes that although market disruption is key to growth, the growth of local operators will contribute significantly to the gross domestic product (GDP) rather than direct revenue earned by the government.

“I feel like the federal government should be more concerned about that. Because issuing out licences to foreign operators… I think they are just seeing the ‘now’ of the whole situation because those people will pay for licences and all of that, just the money that comes in at the time. But the long-term goal wouldn’t be beneficial to Nigeria, especially. If BetWinner didn’t come into operation in Nigeria, I wouldn’t be sitting down here.” – said Otu.

Otu pointed out that:

“It doesn’t give that room and opportunity for Nigerians to get jobs, local content promotion, and for those companies over there, they wouldn’t be able to finetune their products to suit the market here because they are not here, and they can’t fully understand the market like people who are actually in the industry on the ground.”

“So, I hope the federal government rethinks it because it would not be beneficial to us and to them as well in the long run,” –  she stated.

Otu’s efforts are aligned with broader industry goals of promoting responsible gaming and enhancing regulatory oversight. She believes that effective regulation safeguards consumers and fosters trust and credibility within the gaming industry.

“I think the first lobby that would be beneficial to us is having a unified taxation law and process, having the federal and state governments agree on how they want taxation to go. Then, we would also be promoting a better regulation for underaged gambling, something better, something more robust that goes beyond just saying ‘+18’. We need a more robust regulation with regard to that,” – she noted.

Otu’s advocacy efforts in taxation and regulatory reforms are instrumental in shaping a more transparent, fair, and responsible gaming environment in Nigeria. Through her leadership and collaboration with stakeholders, she is driving positive change that benefits both consumers and operators, ultimately enhancing the integrity and sustainability of the gaming industry.

WORDS ON MARBLE

In the Association of State Gaming Regulators, we have expended a lot of resources working on a uniform regime and standard. The moment we have that activated, operators will not have to run helter and skelter. There will be a platform you can go to apply to one or apply to all. That is what we are targeting. We are hoping that the Supreme Court declares judgment with regard to our jurisdiction matter. If you read the constitution of Nigeria, you will see that there is no grey area. There are dozens of matters in the last 20 years that the various courts have pronounced that all residual matters lie within the states where they occurred. In the previous Senate, the Presidency rejected the National Lottery Commission Act 2017, but the Senate did something else overnight. That is why the President refused to sign it into law because the matter was pending at the Supreme Court.

Source: thisdaylive.com

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