Counsel Petitioned National Lottery Commission over Unpaid Winnings

Three Nigerians have acquired counsel over unpaid winnings by one of the top sports betting companies in Nigeria, Bet Bonanza.

The players are allegedly appealing to the lottery commission to intervene to help them retrieve their winnings. according to a local report which said the players seek the service of a Lagos-based lawyer name Victor Emerson has petitioned the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), urging it to probe unpaid sports bet winnings of over 186million Naira (about 456 thousand USD) involving his clients. In a petition dated February 24, 2021, he said his clients Cephas Esemeka, Goodluck Solomon, and Uloeze Odum won N186 million after placing bets with Bet Bonanza but were not paid.

Esemeka Solomon and Odun had, on January 16, 2021, also petition the commission over the same issue. NLRC acknowledges receipt of the petitions on February 17 and 24. In a March 16 letter to the National Lottery Regulatory Commission Director-General Mr Gbajabiamila Emerson stated that the commission was yet to respond to the petition of February 24 several weeks after receiving it. According to him, the agency’s delay in attending to the petition “lends credence to our client’s suspicions that the commission may have assumed a position on this issue to their detriment.” Emerson said:

“We have no hesitation whatsoever in taking this matter outside the Commission where it appears the Commission is being deliberate in the dereliction of its statutory duties.”

The lawyer urged the NLRC to take the appropriate step to ensure that our petition is given its due consideration as it is statutorily appointed to do….” The petitioners said they went to Bet Bonanza agent in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State Capital, to cash out their reward but were informed that the company withdrew the funds already credited to the agent for their payment. The petitioners said they went to the company’s head office in Lagos and were informed that the payment was withdrawn because they allegedly fixed the games.

Esemeka said he placed bets on the exact matches with another company and won 19 million Naira, which he redeemed. The petitioners urged the NLRC to investigate the winnings’ non-payment and help them claim their winnings and redeem their rightful cash rewards from Bet Bonanza. They attached evidence of the bets they placed, including ticket numbers and winnings.

But when contacted, Bet Bonanza claimed that the petitioners were not entitled to the winnings. The company’s lawyer Babajimi Ayorinde and Oladimeji Sarumi, in a March 8 response to the petitioners demand letter, stated:

“Our clients have gone through your letter the tickets you forwarded to us and is of the view that your clients have breached its terms and conditions amongst other infractions.”

In light of this, our clients are of the view that your clients are not entitled to any winnings.

We hope you will advise your clients accordingly.” Meanwhile, the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC) was primarily born out of the need to regulate lottery businesses’ operations in Nigeria and promote transparency and accountability, such as online sports betting, lottery, mobile lottery, casino, amongst others.

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