Tourism is an instrument of economic development that impacts directly on the economy as it has been known to provide the resources that could be deployed to enhance economic growth; accelerate development and reduce poverty. Similarly, it is a veritable public relations instrument for selling a city, state or country and thereby prepares it for needed foreign investment.
Tourism has become one of the fastest growing industries in the world. It has over the years proven to be a surprisingly strong and resilient economic activity and a fundamental contributor to economic growth of nations with a capacity to generate billions of dollars as well as creating millions of jobs. Acknowledging these facts, many developing and developed countries today rely on tourism as an option for sustainable development of their nations.
Nigeria has large geographical regions and ecological zones. It also has different amiable climatic variables rich in biological diversity; cascading water systems, rolling links, pleasant and distinctive sceneries. Accordingly, many state governments have keyed in to diversify their economies to boost their internally generated revenue.
In Nigeria, Lagos State has always been in the fore front of various trail blazing socio-economic strategies. This is not really surprising. As the nation’s Centre of Excellence, it behoves on the City-State to set the pace while others follow. This commitment to excellence and innovation is being recognized in numerous initiatives to expand the tourism potentials in the State. This is essentially the reason why the Lagos State Lotteries Board, which was established by the Lagos State Lotteries Law 2004 (as amended) to license and regulate lotteries and related gaming activities conducted within the state, is not resting on its oars in setting the pace in the lottery business in the country.
It is in order to effectively leverage on the globally recognized potential of tourism to fast track economic development that the Lagos State government through an Executive Order, in July 2016, transferred the administration of the Lagos State Casino and Gaming Law 2007 and Casino and Gaming Regulation 2008 for effective and efficient regulatory administration to Lagos State Lotteries Board.
The board whose core values include integrity, team work, passion for what they do and excellent service orientation for stakeholders embarked on a mission to accomplishing the vision of the State Government to make the gaming industry a robust tourist hub in Lagos State.
LSLB maintained that the commitment of the board is to redefine tourism in the state through primarily putting the lottery business in the front burner by adopting a stakeholders inclusive approach in its regulatory function in a friendly environment as well as charting a legal framework to addressing issues limiting smooth operation of pools promoters and agents; casinos and the general gaming industry in the state.
The need to harmonize all laws and regulations as it relates to gaming; lottery, sports betting, casinos and pools betting in the state is also of utmost importance to consolidate on its operational standard and be the most successful regulatory body in Nigeria. Also, of immense priority is opening its arms towards interacting and partnering with key players in the industry to strategize on how to gallop forward within the context of its vision and mission statements. The board expects its licensees to maintain highest operational standards with a view to promoting the sector.
The challenges facing the lottery business in Nigeria, viz-a-viz the Lagos State experience include the negativity surrounding the gaming sector. For instance, while some cultural beliefs do not permit lottery gaming, underage gaming is also a thing of concern coupled with the widespread campaign that lottery is a prohibited form of entertainment. However, with intense awareness campaign, these shortcomings will be a thing of the past. Currently in Lagos State, revenues being generated from the sector are being set aside for good causes such as the provision of Social amenities, Security, Education and Infrastructure.
Without mincing words, Lagos State Lotteries Board harps on the open-door policy which ensures that investors, operators, aggrieved stakers and the general public have access to accurate information, excellent services and timely grievance resolution through regular stakeholders meeting where great ideas are shared and effective suggestions made on how to move the gaming sector forward in the State.
All stakeholders in this sector in Lagos State including Casino and Pools Betting operators and all other gaming operators must therefore identify with the Lagos State Lotteries Board by giving support through adherence to rules and laws guiding the business among others. It is through this support that we could truly enhance the activities of the sector with a view to making the vision of the Lagos State Government compete favourably with the best gaming jurisdiction in the world.
Adeleke is Public Affairs Officer, Lagos State Lotteries Board.