Nigeria gets tough on offshore gambling operators

The West African country of Nigeria is the continent’s largest economy, primarily due to its petroleum production and export industries, and is well-known for its long-time love affair with gambling of all kinds. Many in the gambling industry believe that Nigeria has the potential to become the continent’s largest online betting market.

Due to its economic leadership in Africa, what happens in Naija may affect the financial state of the rest of the continent. Yet, despite the apparent success of both online and offline gambling enterprises in Nigeria (with many benefits to the state), government officials are now looking to seriously crack down on offshore and unregulated gambling operators.

Cracking down on unregulated sites

The unprecedented growth of the gambling industry in Nigeria has proved to be the largest obstacle for authorities to properly govern the actions of the operators and players within the country.

When in December of 2019, the state of Lagos began granting licenses for online sports betting, Nigerians were able to start playing at offshore online casinos for decades without fear of prosecution.

Unfortunately, not all government agencies were kept apprised of the swift growth in players playing in offshore establishments, causing a backlash of issues such as capital flight, tax evasion, the non-disclosure of financial transactions and movements of illicit funds.

The collaboration

Recently, the Nigerian Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC) sought out the country’s Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) in order to form a cooperative task force to restrict Nigerian gamblers from playing on unregulated sites.

Earlier in 2020, the NLRC had partnered with the country’s Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to fight “unscrupulous companies” in the country’s gambling industry. Although these organizations have previously worked together to scrutinise operators, they’re now ramping up their efforts.

In a statement, NLRC director-general Lanre Gbajabiamila said:

“Our alliance and mutual cooperation are now more imperative, and as responsible agencies, it is our duty to keep pace with the dynamic and growing complexity of the modern lottery industry which features multi-channel availability, the electronic delivery of play, and complex financial transactions.”

It will be interesting to see how this new partnership affects the ongoing reorganization of federal and state cooperation in regulating this ever-growing and ever-changing industry.


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