The commencement of operation by National Lottery Nigeria on the February 22nd, 2023, marked another watershed in the economic empowerment firmament of Nigeria not only for the prospects of empowering Nigerians financially but also for igniting the entrepreneurial spirit among Nigerians, creating employment and fattening government coffers in terms of taxes.
At the commencement of National Lottery Nigeria, I expressed our optimism that players stand a chance to win mega-millions in prizes, to fight poverty and unemployment, among other issues, in the nation, it struck a chord that over 200 million Nigerians would agree with me because of the endemic poverty in the land. Players stand a chance to change the narratives of their families as vehicles to rewrite their family histories.
At no other time is this prospect more welcome than at a time like this when the poverty incidence is on the rise; a time when 63% of persons living within Nigeria (133 million people) are multidimensionally poor, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
For a country like Nigeria with a dependency ratio of 14 percent, lottery beneficiaries can assuage the suffering of people around them, friends, and family. This has been proved time and time again with such games of chance including lotteries, sports betting, and other games across the country.
Similarly, the Lottery, which mirrors the gaming industry, is a veritable source of employment that can help the economy cut down the unemployment level from its current unsustainable level of 33 percent. The industry has created jobs across a set of value chains, many of them self-employed like oddsmakers, analysts, security, and cashiers thus creating real value for the economy.
People thus employed, spend their wages in the broader economy – payment of rent, school fees, transportation, food, beverage, and entertainment. This dynamic, according to economists, is what engenders economic growth. Technically, it pushes the National Income line outwards to achieve economic growth.
People who earn, inexorable pay their taxes, suggesting that there is a fiscal side to this empowerment avenue, namely, Government revenue. The fiscal authorities collect taxes from these economic agents thus widening and enriching the tax net in a progressive tax regime.
Taxes are what fiscal authorities depend on apart from loans to build infrastructure. By analogous reasoning, therefore, a vibrant gaming industry is consequential to the infrastructural provision by government-Roads, hospitals, railways, broadband, etc.
So beyond economic growth which derives, partly, from wages, there is economic development, which comes from upgrades in infrastructure. The National Lottery has the potential to help deliver that to an economy.
Big Gaming cities like Las Vegas are testimonies to this assertion, what with the city’s well-developed infrastructure. As much as 30 percent of winnings are taxed by the government. It explains how a dessert such as Las Vegas was transformed into a tourist’s delight. The same fast-paced development can be said of Macau, Monte Carlo, and Marina Bay in Singapore as the common denominator for these cities, is the gaming and betting industry.
Given the transformative effect of the Lottery on cities as enunciated above, it is safe to say that Lottery is a social resource that has positively changed the economic fortunes of several nations. An early report on the industry by The Guardian newspaper revealed that in South Africa, for instance, 82 percent of the population plays the lottery, at least, once a week.
In 2012 alone, the lottery share of funds to the country’s finances was put at about N141.3 billion. According to figures obtained from Statista.com. Total revenue in just one segment of the industry was projected to reach US$26.44m in 2022.
Total revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2022-2027) of 7.32%, resulting in a projected market volume of US$39.55m by 2027.
Morocco is another country reaping large from lottery promotions. With a population of 35 million, the country posted revenue contributions to the Central government to the tune of $ 15 million in 2012.
It was projected to reach €1.16m in 2022. Total revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2022-2027) of 7.99%, resulting in a projected market volume of €1.95m by 2027
In Niger Republic, more than 45 percent of the population plays the lottery because the citizens are aware that over the years, lottery proceeds are being used by the government to fight desertification and for the provision of boreholes for rural communities even as several lottery winners continue to enjoy sponsorship to Mecca to perform Holy pilgrimage year-in-year-out.
These eye-popping numbers, if anything, are propellants for the industry in Nigeria where an estimated 60 million people between the ages of 18 and 40 were involved in the sports betting scene from 2019 to 2020, according to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). In 2019, it was claimed that the country’s whole sports gambling industry was valued at USD 2 billion. This is a whopping N921 billion.
With such high volumes and value coming from the industry, it was only a matter of time before the government stepped in, which it rightly did via the National Lottery Act of 2005, which established the National Lottery Regulatory Commission [NLRC].
According to section 57 of the Act, ”Lottery” or Lotteries” includes any game, scheme, agreement, system, plan, promotional competition, or device for the distribution of prizes by lot or chance, or as a result of the exercise of skill and chance or based on the outcome or sporting events, or any other game, scheme, agreement, system, plan, competition or device, which the President may by notice in the Gazette, declare to be a lottery and which shall be operated according to a Licence.
The commission was primarily established out of the need to regulate the operations of the lottery business, promote transparency and accountability in the lottery, and protect the interests of players, stakeholders, and the public.
The lottery business has also gained acceptance as a special intervention fund available to the government as an alternative to raising taxes when there are perceived infrastructural deficits.
Available funds realized from the lottery are then expended in providing infrastructure in critical areas of health, education, transportation, and the power sector. Recall that during the Goodluck Jonathan Presidency, a certain percentage of the lottery trust funds were approved for the development of grass-root sports in the country.
Even the Nigerian Pilgrims Commission has developed a scheme to enable people to play the lottery even as winners get paid tickets for the holy pilgrimage to Mecca or Jerusalem.
This success makes it believable, the Naija Mega Jackpot, Our flagship game is the Naija Mega Jackpot with a minimum Jackpot of N45 million, which is progressive and shall grow to possibly hundreds of millions and more.
We have worked tirelessly to ensure the highest standards of quality and integrity. We have a dedicated team of customer service representatives who are available to answer any questions or concerns our players may have. We also have a responsible gaming policy in place to ensure that our customers are playing responsibly.
I can assure you that the launch of this new venture marks a major milestone in the country’s economic development and in the lives of those who will benefit from its many offerings.
Let me take you in on the background of the offerings of the National Lottery Nigeria:
National Lottery Nigeria, under the aegis of leading lottery operator, Systems and Gaming Nigeria Ltd., offers a variety of engaging and rewarding games to its players. From the whooping Naija mega jackpot to our more interactive instant-win scratch card games, the National Lottery Nigeria has something to suit everyone. It is made to cater to all and sundry, which allows anyone to win.
We launched the long-awaited National Game on the 18th of July 2022 in Abuja. Various people from all walks of life, including government officials and industry stakeholders, were in attendance to witness the launch. Since then, the public has displayed tremendous excitement and anticipation to play the National Game.
The National game brings with it a wealth of exciting games, prizes, and entertainment to millions of Nigerians. Players can choose from a variety of games such as Naija Mega Jackpot, 6/49, Pick 3, Instant win scratch cards, and more.
Nigerians can play using our USSD code *9966# or website www.nationallotterynigeria.com. These are quick and easy ways for customers to play lottery games.
Olayiwola Onafowokan is the Managing Director of National Lottery Nigeria.