Nigeria’s National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC) has ordered local lottery operator Sponge Nigeria to pay out N138m (£280,728/€314,966/$355,794) in winnings owed to players, and fined the operator N10m for failing to do so.
Sponge ran a promotional lottery, the Better Life Billionaire Promo around six months ago, though ultimately failed to pay customers their winnings.
This NLRC director general Lanre Gbajabiamila, said, amounted to a violation of the operational terms and conditions of its permit to run promotional lottery in the market.
Furthermore, he added, Sponge had failed to come up with an acceptable reason for withholding winnings.
In a letter to the operator, Gbajabiamila said: “Your continued failure and/or refusal to pay legitimate winnings is a flagrant violation of the National Lottery Act 2005 and Regulation, and Operational Terms and Conditions.
“By accepting the NLRC permit for the [Better Life Billionaire Promo], Sponge was legally bound to conduct its affairs with all due propriety and protect participating stakeholders,” Gbajabiamila wrote. “Under […] the terms and conditions, Sponge promised to “'ensure that all prizes and monies due to prize winners are redeemed in full.”
The director general warned that Sponge was now expected to pay out winnings and its fine as soon as possible, with failure to do so likely to result in additional fines and enforcement action.
According to the NLRC, “failure to pay winnings undermines the integrity of the lottery/gaming industry and [is] inconsistent with transparency, accountability and fairness which are hallmarks of the Commission’s operations.”