The Nigerian online betting industry faces many challenges. This is according to Isiaka Ibrahim, a member of the House of Representatives. Ibrahim has come forward to say that underage gambling and money laundering must be brought under control. His solution to the problems comes by way of a motion.
If passed, the motion will make it compulsory for online sportsbooks to collect National Identity Numbers (NIN.) This means that sportsbooks won’t be allowed to accept bets until a NIN is first verified. Ibrahim explained that the measure will go a long way to cutting down on underage betting. He also stressed that steps need to be taken now before the local betting industry gets any bigger.
As it stands gambling in Nigeria is set to hit $565 billion by the end of 2022. That is in contrast to the current figures of $400 billion.
Curbing Problem Gambling
Ibrahim elaborated that age verification is the biggest tool in the government’s arsenal. He pointed out that age verification is compulsory at land-based casinos and the same should be true for Nigerian online casinos and sports betting sites. He went on to stress that data security is also an issue. Another problem that could be alleviated by the collection of NIN from all bettors.
Ibrahim then spoke about money laundering. He emphasized that sportsbooks transactions are anonymous and that with anonymity comes criminal activity. A growing problem that could also be stemmed from making NIN compulsory.
It isn’t known if the motion will pass. If it does it has been confirmed that the National Lottery Regulatory Commission will be overseeing.
Forwarded to the House Committee
It is now the job of the House Committee on Governmental Affairs to look at the matter. This also means that the controversial Akin Alabi will get to have his say. It is widely known that Alabi is a founder of Nairabet while also being a Chair of The Committee. Given that Alabi has a stake in the industry many have called into question his position in government.
In 2020 the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) put forward a motion to tax bets. If passed the tax would have applied even if bets did not win. Alabi took to Twitter to express his disagreement with the idea. He publically Tweeted that bettors don’t want to be taxed when they aren’t winning. The outburst proved how controversial Alabi’s position in government really is. That his Committee oversees the National Lottery Regulatory Commission is a conflict of interest.
Either way, the latest motion regarding NIN collection is heading to the Committee.