Lawmakers, Stakeholders Seek Regulation Of Sport Betting

Lawmakers, Stakeholders Seek Regulation Of Sport Betting

The House of Representatives and some stakeholders, on Wednesday, called for the regulation of sport betting in the country to curtail the dangerous effects of its activities on Nigerians, especially the youth.

The made the call at a public hearing on a motion titled, “Need to curtail the dangerous effects of sports betting and direct the National Lottery Regulatory Commission to comply with the Lottery Regulatory Commission Act, 2005,” organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs.

Declaring the public hearing open, Speaker Abbas Tajudeen said
as a responsible parliament, the House cannot fold its hands and watch Nigerians, especially the youth who indulge in such dangerous acts of betting to continue to flounder and perish without taking adequate legislative steps.

Represented by the House Leader, Hon. Julius Ihonvbere, the Speaker said in the ever-changing world, people are on daily basis engaging in highly risky games such as sports betting or gambling by staking their enormously treasured possessions such as money, gold and houses, hoping to make accidental gains and chancing to get them back in multiple folds.

“This dangerous indulgence is becoming more and more prevalent in our country with many Nigerians particularly our youths becoming increasingly addicted to such acts. The ultimate consequences of the obsession to gamble and bet as you are all aware include; psychological and emotional instability, financial drain, workplace derangement leading to depression, stress, health issues and family crisis and utter ruins which pose huge crisis to our society and the socio-economic development of Nigeria

“As a responsible parliament and People’s House we cannot fold our hands and watch our citizens especially our youths who indulge in such dangerous acts to continue to flounder and perish without taking adequate legislative steps to correct and moderate the worrisome situation for the benefits of the individuals and our nation. This understanding underscores the urgent need for this public hearing,” he stated.

In a presentation, Abuja Head of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) Kuru, Plateau State, Sandra Agbor, called for an Executive Order to regulate sports betting activities in the country

Agbor said the Nigerian Lottery Regulatory Commission Act, 2005, should be reviewed to address the dangers of sports betting and urged the National Assembly to expedite action on the review and passage of the law on or before the fourth quarter of 2024.

“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.

“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.

“Betting 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 centers for quick response to the medical needs of addicts by the fourth quarter of 2024.

“The NLRC should ensure that betting companies fund the units that provide free medical/mental treatments for betting addicts by first quarter of 2025.There should be an increased awareness campaign to educate the public, especially the youth, on the risks and negative effects of sports betting on individuals and the society,” she said.

On his part, Legal Officer of the Association of Nigerian Bookmakers, the umbrella body for gaming operators, Olafadeke Akeju, said all stakeholders have a role to play in ensuring the gaming industry operates with integrity, transparency, accountability and responsibility to mitigate and address the risks associated with the activities.

In his intervention, the House Committee’s chairman, Hon. Canice Nwachukwu (APC, Imo), said though Nigeria is a secular state, there was a need to protect children from becoming nuisance as a result of their involvement in unregulated gaming and entertainment.

Nwachukwu said gaming will not be ban, but the system will be properly controlled and directed all gaming operators to furnish it with the details of winners and losers and the number of attempts made by individuals.

“This committee will make sure we have a level playing ground, where all the mechanism that will make it run smoothly without becoming inimical to societal progress is in place.

“There are advantages and disadvantages of whatever one does; we have to play within the rules of engagement. There is a need to introduce a central monitoring system; this to a reasonable extent will help address the issues,” he stated.

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