How NLRC Plans to Regulate Gaming

Iyke Bede underscores why the National Lottery Regulatory Commission is clamouring for a Central Monitoring System as the next technological step the gaming industry should take to ensure data verification processes, strengthen regulatory oversight and encourage collaboration for consistent reporting practices

Accurately gathering data from the sports betting and lottery sector has proven to be a continual challenge. Auditing firms based in Nigeria and elsewhere employ different methodologies in their calculations and frequently present varying sets of facts.

The inconsistencies in the data provided make it almost impossible to establish reliable benchmarks in the industry. The growth trajectory remains speculative, susceptible to triggering unsustainable trends fueled by misinformation and misinterpretation. Most crucially, it has the potential to mislead investors in the sector, thereby hindering any prospects of long-term growth.

The National Lottery Regulatory Commission, the federal platform vested with the authority to oversee all gaming activities in all states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, is proposing a Central Monitoring System (CMS) that will enhance the efficiency and transparency of the regulatory processes, ensuring a more streamlined and secure monitoring of gaming activities across the nation.

Led by the Director-General, Lanre Gbajabiamila, the proposed amendment in the National Lottery Act to create a universal CMS to address and resolve the issue of standardised data reporting and enhance transparency in data collection will showcase the Commission’s dedication to modernising operations.

If and when achieved, this feat will mark a milestone in the industry, much like previous interventions in developing a system that enables operators to exercise audit control over their agents, blocking many loopholes.

“The industry is growing technology-wise. When I was in Lagos, the technology wasn’t that advanced in lottery and gaming. The operations were within each state. When we advanced a bit into the bill, we said that all their internal transactions should have a system in place so that our government can always come in and audit it to check the integrity of that system. At the time, they started using POS that was integrated with their system, which they were not using before,”  – Gbajabiamila explained.

He added:

“They were using paper coupons, and that’s what they presented. So, there wasn’t transparency or accountability for the operator and the agent. The operators were losing because of what the agents declared to them, but once everything went online with the POS, they were able to see what they were actually making. Who played with which particular agent? It was a plus to them. That’s why when the change came, they were not too sure, but with time, I got a call and letters of appreciation for that initiative that we took because a lot of companies were able to see the point in technology at that time.”

The CMS is positioned as the industry’s next technological step. It will ensure that data verification processes are implemented, strengthen regulatory oversight of data accuracy, and encourage collaboration for consistent reporting practices.

Gbajabiamila stated the need for a central monitoring system, stressing that with it:

“We’re able to monitor all the operators’ activities, not only for financial transactions, which is very important, but also the pattern of the players, and also to determine which states are contributing more to the federation.”

He added:

“At the end of the day, we’re all Nigerians, it is not just not just about the state. We’re able to check for responsible gaming as a regulator without relying on the operator. We’re able to enforce on the operators that are operating and are not compliant, because it is by the tip of your system, you shut them down.”

Despite not being enacted, the CMS has faced significant delays in progressing to its current stage. Nevertheless, Gbajabiamila remains optimistic that the bill will achieve a favourable outcome.

“The government delayed the bill last year. But I believe that the government of President Bola Tinubu, with his ‘Renewed Hope Agenda’, and with his reputation from Lagos as a revenue-generating governor, and what he has done building Lagos on the technical platform that all the other governors have been using to date, we will be able to get this one done this time around.”

– he told GAMING WEEK in an exclusive interview.


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