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Sports betting assists govt’s infrastructural projects, says Gbajabiamila
22 Jun 2015  
For those who see sports betting as mere gambling, with its attendant addiction, there’s a need to have a rethink. Education, health, environment and infrastructural projects are some of the ways government deploys taxes derived f rom sports betting. This was the submission of CEO, Lagos State Lotteries Board, Nigeria, Mr. Lanre Gbajabiamila, at the maiden edition of West Africa’s betting and lottery conference was held recently in Lagos. The conference was designed to highlight the strategies of growth and market development for West Africa’s sports betting and lottery sector, and also included an exhibition. It also took into account the challenges and opportunities of the region’s gaming markets and how to improve them for long term development. The exhibition brought together participants representing Africa and European sports betting, gaming companies and industry experts to mulls strategies needed to excel in sports betting and lottery markets. The submit also covered the latest online and mobile sports betting innovation, new sports betting regulations, player acquisition approaches for sports betting and the future of gaming in Africa. In his address, keynote speaker Gbajabiamila stated that the conference was brought to Lagos, as a pioneer regulator of the gaming industry, adding that a lot of people regarded sports betting as gambling because they were not enlightened about what the industry is all about. According to him, “Sports betting is a form of entertainment because people love to use their knowledge of football to entertain themselves. They bet on their favourite teams and if they win, they get their money but if not, they still contribute to a good cause. Indirectly, they make contribution for taxes that are being used for four sectors of the state which includes education, infrastructure, health and environment.” He further argued that Lagos State Lottery Board was engaged in activities to help strengthen the education sector in Nigeria, part of which is helping to construct a place where the students of LASU have meetings and also to distribute materials to help the health sector. He added that with the new government in place, pNigerians will begin to see a lot of things that will be done for sports, infrastructure and education in the near future through revenues realized from sports betting. Gbajabiamila also stressed that the challenge in sports betting was illegality, and said in conjunction with the government, the board has a monitoring and enforcement unit that arrests, persecutes and jails offenders, adding that it had helped to sanitise the industry. Partner, Law Allianz & President, Nigeria Gaming Association,Mr. Yahaya Maikori, noted that sports betting business is barely 20% of the market potential, as there are many places in Nigeria without betting shops. According to him, “For Lagos alone, the unutilized potential is about 30 to 40 billion naira annually. The biggest companies in Europe are online, and whether there is legislation or not, people can bet on their phones and make money, while the states are losing.” He emphasized that legislation was needed so that sports betting could make money for the state. He urged the states to put mechanism or laws in place to deal with those who were prone to addiction, adding, “There is a lot that happens in the sports betting industry. There are software, apps, internet, property and young people who can design soft wares. All these only shows there are opportunities for employment.