Protecting Stakers From Gaming Exploitation

A lot has changed within the Nigerian gaming landscape, as the sector has continued to expand, benefitting from the large youthful population, improved Internet penetration, and increased access to Internet-enabled devices.

The foregoing view cannot be waved with the hands, and sanctimoniously condemned to be immoral as Sports betting has slowly emerged as a lucrative segment of the society, leveraging Nigeria’s huge football culture.

The Premier League, La Liga, and other leagues across the globe have millions of fans in the country and collectively provide a common platform for betting, which, to many youths, is a huge opportunity to earn from their passion.

Despite the dip in economic activities, there are growth prospects, even as the economy rebounds and income stabilises.

The National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), established by the National Lottery Act 2005, was signed into law on March 30, 2005. However, the commission started full operation in 2009 when then President Olusegun Obasanjo made Chief Peter Igho the Director-General. Since then, NLRC has been serving lottery operators, players, and the public; to bring fair play, honesty, integrity, and transparency into the business.

As not a few people see the lottery industry from a derogatory prism, the commission was established to change the negative perception of the seven-letter word and to make people see it as a way of raising funds for good causes.

With its current leadership, the commission has continued to play its regulatory role with a new zeal, through the deployment of leading technologies, as well as effective management of human and material resources for optimal realisation of its mandate.

Analysed from the foregoing perspective, one of the ways the commission is meant to serve the public is by ensuring that the under-aged population is not unduly influenced by lottery promoters into gambling, and to ensure that the collective interest of consumers is protected from unfair practices.

The most crucial area where consumers in the betting sector need to be protected, and which has, since the establishment of the United Nations Children’s Fund, been a cause for concern, is that of ensuring that the under-aged are not allowed to engage in gaming.

Little wonder, UNICEF, a few years ago, published a set of recommendations for the online gaming industry, designed to guide and support gaming companies through a process of incorporating child rights considerations in their business.

As UNICEF asserted, the recommendations were published to document that:

“Gaming companies have the responsibility to shape their platforms in ways that respect and support children’s rights. I hope these recommendations can help companies understand the impact and take action to improve their performance.”

Unfortunately, contrary to the recommendations, which highlight issues around healthy game time, ensuring inclusion and representation, avoiding toxic environments, consideration around age limits and verification, combatting grooming and sexual abuse, and managing commercial influence, bettors that are under 18 years of age in Nigeria, and who are invariably children in this context, increasingly use gaming platforms to meet and engage beyond play. (…)

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