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NIPSS to Tinubu: Issue executive order to check dangers of sports betting

The National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) has asked President Bola Tinubu to issue an executive order to address the dangers of sports betting in Nigeria.

Ayo Omotayo, director-general (DG) of the institute, spoke in Abuja on Wednesday at a public hearing organised by the house of representatives committee on inter-governmental affairs.

In February, the house of representatives asked the federal ministry of information and national orientation to conduct “nationwide campaigns” to raise awareness about the negative impact of youth participation in sports betting.

The resolution of the house was a sequel to the adoption of a motion sponsored by Kelechi Nwogu, a lawmaker from Rivers state.

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The house also resolved to invite the leadership of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission to brief them on the “efforts to safeguard the rights of sports betting players”.

Speaking at the hearing, Omotayo, who was represented by Sandra Agbor, a deputy director, proposed that the Nigerian Lottery Regulatory Commission Act 2005 should be amended to address the dangers of sports betting.

He said while the process to review the law is pending, Tinubu should issue an executive order to address the dangers of sports betting.

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“The negative effects should be factored into the design of a holistic response that will protect the underage, prevent fraud, and confront addiction in Nigeria,” she said.

“While awaiting the review and passage of the Act, the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should issue an executive order on the dangers of sports betting in Nigeria.”

She said bet addicts should be made to receive counselling and treatments.

“The NLRC, in collaboration with the federal and state ministries of health, should ensure the establishment of units in public hospitals and primary health centres for quick response to the medical needs of addicts by the fourth quarter of 2024,” Agbor said. 

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“The NLRC should ensure that betting companies fund the units that provide free medical/mental treatments for betting addicts by the first quarter of 2025.

Speaking also, Canice Nwachukwu, chairman of the committee, said there are no plans to institute a regulatory framework to ban the operation of sports betting.

“We are all Nigerians. We would not go against people doing their business. They have the right to exercise their franchise,” Nwachukwu said.

“But what we are saying is we have to play within the rules of the game.”

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The lawmaker said there should be a system to control and enforce all the provisions that would allow gaming and betting to flow smoothly without becoming a social menace.

‘WE’RE COMMITTED TO UPHOLDING BETTING STANDARDS’

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The Association of Nigerian Bookmakers (ANB), the national trade body that represents sports betting, lottery and gaming operators in Nigeria, said the industry is committed to upholding standards.

Olafadeke Akeju, the legal officer of the association, who admitted the dangers of sports betting, called on stakeholders to ensure that the gaming industry operates with integrity, transparency, accountability and responsibility to mitigate risks associated with the game.

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Obi Yerewu, director of licensing and operation, who represented Lanre Gbajabiamila, director-general (DG) of the National Lottery Commission, said efforts have been made to sensitise Nigerians on the adverse effects of betting games.

“The number of Nigerian youths employed in this ecosystem is huge. Very huge. The commission in the recent past has brought experts to enlighten Nigerians on the benefits of sports betting and also to emphasise responsible gaming,” Gbajabiamila said.

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“The slogan of our commission is lottery, the right way. This connotes the fact that not only does it generate revenue, but it is also sensitive to ensure that we don’t breed addicts.

 

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