EXPERTS NIGERIA How workers, agents impact on gaming industry 12 months ago Szarlot Post Views: 258 One area of engagement in the Nigerian gaming industry that can be used to advance an understanding of development is the metamorphosis of workers and agents in the gaming environment, which supports over 300,000 workers in the entire value chain across public and private sectors, writes Nseobong Okon-Ekong Arguably, not much is known or heard of the National Union of Lottery Agents and Employees (NULAE), an affiliate of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), which caters to the interest of workers in the gaming Industry. The union is set to put its years of obscurity behind. The brighter days ahead for NULAE have been skilfully painted by its current national treasurer, Comrade David Omaghomi, who will assume the leadership of the body as president in a few weeks. The Nigerian gaming industry is currently overseen by about 50 regulators (across federal and state levels). There are over 300 legal operators interfacing with almost 20 million daily stakers. At different fora there has been emphasis on the need for more aligned service delivery, trade organisation, professionalism and better working conditions for the over 300,000 workers in the entire value chain across public and private sectors. Omaghomi stated: “A better workforce will no doubt help raise the standards of service delivery, revenue generation and ultimately more good causes for society.” In readiness for the new era of unionism in the gaming industry, the congress of the union has mandated its executive to reflect a more inclusive nomenclature and this will be done by the new administration coming into office from May 1, 2023. For instance, slogans like “Gaming Workers for Social Good” and “The Trade Union for the Gaming Industry in Nigeria,” will be seen everywhere. The impending Omaghomi NULAE leadership is poised to demand better working conditions for workers, industry specific training to produce more professional workers and proper identification to prevent harassment from security agencies. All of these, he hopes, will promote stronger responsible gaming ethos across the industry; securing the future of gaming workers – with pension, health insurance and credit; and promoting better inter-relations between workers of all public or private sector regulators and operators. Omaghomi exuded confidence in the capacity of the incoming NULAE executive to take the union new heights. We had the gaming industry dialogue at Eko Hotel last year, where the National Lotteries Regulatory Commission (NLRC) featured prominently. The union has gone through a lot of challenges from the operators in the first four years since it’s registration by the federal government in 2014. We ended up in the Industrial Court. The union is now on a very strong footing as a registered trade union in the industry. Everybody is aligning. It is a good development for the industry generally. He added: “We will be having our next function on April 28 and 29 and at the May Day rally. These will signal my entry as the national president. We have lined up programmes for improvement of the gaming industry; which include helping the operators and stakers have a better relationship, to reduce as much as possible rivalry between regulators at the state and federal levels and to have the operators commit to responsible gaming; that is talking about under-age, use of drugs and addictive gaming.” He noted that these types of programmes help to create a new paradigm shift in society and impact “our population” as active stakeholders, stressing that workers play a crucial role in the gaming industry. “We are going to transform them into a workforce. Gaming workers globally are a work force to reference. There is paradigm around it that makes gaming workers being seen as a gambling audience. We know that a multi-stakeholder approach is the way forward. Gaming workers globally are seen in the wrong light and it is not different here, but we are trying to carry out an important social re-orientation,” – he stated. He revealed that this is at the centre of “my administration’s” plan to utilise the workforce gainfully. “What I have also done is to get my congress to pass a directive on our dues. Every union thrives on dues-either dues paid by workers or dues paid by affiliates. For us, the government recognizes in our constitution that we have N100 per day per agent or per worker at their point of sale and then the usual 2.5 per cent from employees pay,” – he added. “What we are doing differently is that rather than have a union with that kind of amount and start looking for projects to implement, we have started from the human capacity point of view. We are taking a percentage of this contribution to get health insurance for our members,” – Omaghomi stated. This is not just like the ‘agbero’ kind of union which many people thought it would be and that is why there was a lot of push back from the operators initially, saying that if this union comes up in full force, we are going to start taking levies from our members. Initially, there was the issue of them not wanting to enumerate the actual number of agents, because most operators under-declare the actual number of their agents. Most of the issues against the union in the early days was about operators not wanting a union that can categorically allow the authorities to know the actual number of casino or sports betting agents they have. Omaghomi revealed that was the “major conspiracy,” but said “we were able to douse all that by working with the Ministry of Labour and the major operators to agree that they can pay on behalf of their agents/workers,” who are actual employees, paying the 2.5 per cent and then for agents “we are saying, since you don’t want your agents to pay the same thing as your workers, you can come up with some kind of formula.” “At the end of the day, we had a win-win situation,” Omaghomi pointed out. “There is progress.” Quote Initially, there was the issue of them not wanting to enumerate the actual number of agents, because most operators under-declare the actual number of their agents. Most of the issues against the union in the early days was about operators not wanting a union that can categorically allow the authorities to know the actual number of casino or sports betting agents they have. That was the major conspiracy Source: thisdaylive.com About Post Author Szarlot I am a fan of casino games especially roulette and blackjack. After that I analyze current events in the gambling industry. See author's posts SzarlotI am a fan of casino games especially roulette and blackjack. After that I analyze current events in the gambling industry. 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