LOTTERY

Nigeria 2020 | TOURISM & ENTERTAINMENT | B2B

With lottery regulations changing and technology to bring in a middle-class audience, industry investors would do well to place their bets on Nigeria.

Are Bashir
ARE BASHIR
Managing Director
Lagos State Lotteries Board (LSLB)
Babajide Sobowale
BABAJIDE SOBOWALE
Managing Director
Western Lotto

How did LSLB start, and what do you do?
ARE BASHIR Before the lottery board, there was pool betting law and a casino law, both separately controlled by two different ministries. In 2004, these were brought together under the function of LSLB to regulate pool betting and lotto. As of 2016, the last administration also seeded the control and regulation of casinos to LSLB. Today, the LSLB Law consists of five previous laws combined together under one umbrella. The regulatory board is for gaming and lottery in Lagos State. What we do after we approve licenses is spot checks, online transaction tracking, and monitoring of operator policies. They also submit a monthly report of their transactions. In addition, we have recently developed a new responsible gambling policy to minimize and prevent addictive gambling. We are working with the University of Lagos and Lagos State University's clinical psychologist departments in this realm.

How has Western Lotto distinguished itself from the competition?
BABAJIDE SOBOWALE We have an excellent, young team. This corporate management team is strong, and we emphasize training and improving the skills and capacity of our people. We want to maintain a good relationship with our agents so that we can form formidable partnerships to improve the lives of our people. In terms of service, we do as much as possible to raise the bar and provide excellent service to our customers. We are also investing a lot into research so that we can continue to have a deeper understanding of markets. That allows us to understand the needs of agents. In terms of commission, we try to give back to our people at good rates so that they will be empowered. When the agents start with, we empower them with favorable conditions. We also incorporate social responsibility. In other areas, we try to give back to society. For example, we have the Elumelu Foundation, which we use to give back and empower people by creating wealth. When people are engaged and have a source of income, they are encouraged.

How can challenges such as over-regulation, double taxation, and corruption be addressed, especially in light of your partnership with the Lagos State government?
AB First, the current law should be reviewed. We are currently going through what is missing and what is needed. We have updated our laws to include online gaming, virtual gaming, and responsible gambling. We are incorporating our internal policy to assist our operators with intergovernmental relations. This allows our operators to approach us when they have issues with other ministries, agencies, departments, and local governments; we then liaise with various government on their behalf to further boost ease of doing business. This strategy is especially beneficial to foreign investors. According to my operators, the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has brought back methodology to governance, and our board has used his vision from the outset. Right now, we want more foreign investors, and part of our agenda is to make our environment friendly to businesses. We have incorporated that into our day-to-day operations. We have a public affairs policy in place to assist operators so they can do business smoothly.

How much technology do you integrate into your business?
BS Technology is critical for us, which is why we have been investing heavily in it. It will also help us bring down the cost of services and deliver better services to people. We are engaged in talks for alliances and partnerships that will help us toward this. It is part of the future; one must be there, technologically speaking. We have WesternLotto.com, an online game for people who want to do the lottery online. It is not very popular in Nigeria now, but we keep investing in it and building it up because we believe it is the future. We will be able to bring more of the middle class on board that way, because it is exciting. We are also looking at mobile applications and want to get involved with apps that will help people play the game, too.