The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Governmental Affairs, Akin Alabi, has said international betting companies operating in Nigeria must pay tax to the Nigerian government.
Alabi, owner of an online betting company, Nairabet, said this in Abuja on Wednesday at the public hearing organised by the committee on two bills.
The legislations are titled ‘A Bill for an Act to Repeal the National Lottery Act, No.7 2005 and the National Lottery (Amendment) Act, No.6 2017 and Enact the National Gaming Bill’ and ‘A Bill for an Act to Provide for the Establishment of the Service Compact Management Agency for the Effective Management, Execution and Enforcement of Service Compact with Citizens.’
“We are talking about how foreign operators that have customers in Nigeria are not paying to Nigerian authorities. Like one of the biggest gaming companies in the world, Bet365; anybody can go to Bet365 (online) and register and fund and start playing. So, they are making money off Nigerians but they are not paying any kobo to the Federal Inland Revenue Service,” he said.
According to the lawmaker, there should be no quarrel over whether the gaming industry should be controlled by the federal or state governments.
He, therefore, urged all stakeholders to work together and make it work.
He said, “We should not be fighting over who has control [over the industry]; we should be talking about how we co-exist because whether you like it or not, no one can do without the other: the federal [government] cannot do without the states and the states cannot do without the federal.
“I have worked as an operator and now on the side of government, so I know the in and out of the industry. I think all stakeholders should come together on how best to run this industry and we can now back it with some legislation.”
According to Alabi, the National Gaming Bill seeks to overhaul the previous extant laws and provide for an Act that will fill the lacunas in the existing law and most importantly explore and exploit the full potential of the gaming industry.