Blacklisting threatens to restart Nigerian regulatory battle
The long-running dispute between Nigeria’s gambling regulator the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC) and the Lagos State Lottery Board (LSLB) could resume after the state regulator blacklisted a number of operators licensed by its federal counterpart.
The NLRC noted “with dismay” that the LSLB had added GabLotto, Give ‘n’ take, MLotto, WesternLotto, WescoLotto, Chopbarh, Betbiga, Betwinner, Bet24hrs and Truthware Solutions, operator of the Zoomlifestyle lottery, to its blacklist.
The Lagos board also publicly claimed Truthware Solutions was conducting its business without necessary approval, to discourage citizens in Nigeria’s largest urban area from playing.
However, all these companies have secured federal licences, which the NLRC said precluded the LSLB from blocking their operations in the state.
“As the apex regulator of lotteries and gaming in Nigeria, the NLRC is not in doubt of its mandate and powers conferred on it by the National Lottery Act 2005, which is the contemporary law governing lottery and gaming activities in modern Nigeria,” the NLRC said.
“Any operator licensed by the federal government has the right and is free to conduct business of lottery and gaming in any part of the federation (Lagos State inclusive).”
It argued that the validity of its licences across all states was supported by a “plethora” of court judgements, which ultimately invalidated the blacklisting of the brands in Lagos.
The dispute threatens to restart a long-running battle between the NLRC and LSLB over regulatory jurisdiction. The state lottery board, which was formed before the national regulator, has previously cracked down on operators licensed at a federal level, demanding these businesses secure an LSLB licence in order to continue targeting players in the state.
This ultimately led to Lagos States’ then-governor Akinwunmi Ambode stepping in to mediate between the parties, in May 2019.