The Director General of National Lottery Regulation Commission (NLRC), Adolphus Ekpe, has called for collaboration between the state and federal governments for Nigeria to harness the full revenue potential of the gaming industry. He made the call last week in Lagos at a briefing organized by NaijaBillionaire Limited to flag off its unprecedented N1 billionaire jackpot.
Ekpe said the gaming industry has the potential of helping government make about N300 billion yearly. He lamented that the ongoing rivalry between the two major stakeholders in the industry has seen sector yield less than N7 billion as at 2016.
He also stated the Federal Government could earn a yearly revenue of N50 billion from Naijabillionaire Limited alone while projecting that states could also share about the same earnings. To this end, Ekpe disclosed that the commission was out to rectify the Nigerian gaming industry to equitable benefit for all stakeholders across the country, with a determination to end the era of conflicts and disputes on licensing and permits.
He advised the commission to ensure, “Smooth operation of federal licencees in every state of the federation to check multiple licensing and taxation. We are out to ensure all states benefit equitably from proceeds of national lottery operations by national licencees, to ensure that due process and rule of law is followed in conflict resolution, and create channels of communication and cooperation between state agencies and the Federal Government agency.’’
On further steps being taken to harmonise both parties, Ekpe explained, “The NLRC is establishing an understanding with federal licensees to pay all local taxes or face federal sanctions. We are establishing an understanding with licensees to pay five per cent withholding tax on every play to each state government based on activities in their states. We are also working on a National Lottery Operation Harmonisation Stakeholders Forum in partnership with the Nigerian Governors Forum to align all state interests.”
Chairman of NaijaBillionaire Limited, Adedotun Sulaiman, said the company comes with a national colour and global standard, and is designed by Nigerians for all Nigerians. According to him, “Our mission is to reinvent the entire African gaming industry with a focus on gaming experience that enrich lives and add value to businesses in the environment through integrity and transparency. Our jackpot of N1 billion is unprecedented and will transform lives.”
On his part, the initiator of the concept and Director of NaijaBillionaire Limited, Lai Labode, said the billionaire jackpot was designed to touch the lives of at least one million Nigerians directly every year, as the vision of the company perfectly fits what NLRC wants to achieve by putting Nigeria on the global stage.
“We are ready to travel that path with NLRC and every state of the country. We will ensure that the states get the full benefit of every game played in their state. We are going to pay five per cent withholding tax to the states on every game played. We, therefore, encourage the states to open accounts with us so they can get their dues. We have also established the NaijaBillionaire empowerment fund that will ensure we produce benevolent billionaires. The winner will empower 500 people from his home state with five per cent of the N1 billion. The jackpot would move from state to state.
“We also have the NaijaBillionaire directly sponsored Corporate Social Responsibility with focus on health and education, to be funded with one per cent of our revenue. There’s also the trade partners reward programme. We have established 83 trade territories across the country with a model that ensures that each trade territory is equally profitable. They have been mandated to pay their local taxes to ensure the state governments get what they deserve.”