Rita Okoye, Lagos
The management of Western Lotto has reiterated its commitment to joining hands with the federal government to bring sanity into the nation’s gaming industry.
This was contained in a statement issued by the company on Sunday.
Western Lotto said in the statement that it had become imperative for it to restate its position given the challenge by some lottery operators of its exclusive rights to Ghana games in Nigeria.
Western Lotto said: ‘It is laughable that these elements hiding under a faceless group known as Members of the Lotto Operators Association of Nigeria are spreading falsehood and spurious claims about Western Lotto Nigeria Limited, a going concern that saw a business opportunity in a free-market economy and went for it.’
The statement reads further, ‘as we have stated in the past, for over 20 years, lottery operators in Nigeria have illegally been making huge money from the 5/90 Ghana games without making due remittances to Federal Government or paying royalties to the Ghanaian authorities.
‘Upon joining the industry in 2017, Western Lotto Nigeria Limited took a close study of the business environment and saw how the major lottery operators have been short-changing the authorities while living large on what should ordinarily have gone into the coffers of the Federal Government and the owners of the games after getting their own legitimate dues.’
Western Lotto stated that as a responsible corporate organization, it approached the Ghanaian authorities and was referred to the appointed agents in Ghana with whom it was able to strike an exclusive agreement.
The statement added, ‘upon executing the agreement, we reached out to the owners of Premier Lotto and Golden Chance Lotto asking them to partner with us and the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC) to streamline the sales of the Ghana games in Nigeria and bring about transparency in the industry. They however refused. They wanted to continue with their rip-off of the stakers, agents and government while they smile to the banks.’
Western Lotto stated that as a result of the unwillingness of the companies to cooperate, it filed an action at the Federal High Court, Lagos, against the 24 lottery operators.
“Despite the orders of the court restraining Premier Lotto, Golden Chance Lotto and others from selling the Ghana games or passing them off in any way without recourse to Western Lotto Nigeria Limited, as the sole rights owners of the Ghana games, these operators have continued in their sale of the games,” the statement said.
Western Lotto also stated that ‘the National Lottery Authority of Ghana, owners of the Ghana games, has appointed Western Lotto as their representatives in Nigeria and given it the exclusive rights to the games. The franchise does not preclude any interested operator from selling the games provided it goes through Western Lotto – the sole rights owners to the Ghana games in Nigeria. If anyone does not want to go through Western Lotto – in line with the best global practices and the judgment of the court – such a person is at liberty to stop selling the games. There is no need for any mudslinging and insisting on selling what is not yours.’
While stressing its determination to ensuring that sanity reigns in the industry and the government gets its due from the operators, Western Lotto said ‘it is ridiculous that Nigeria with 200 million population makes only N2 billion annually from the gaming industry, no thanks to the sharp practices of “big men” in the gaming industry; whereas Senegal with a 12million population generates 200billion CFA (about N125billion) annually; Ivory Coast with a 25million population generates 500billion CFA (about N312billion) annually, and Burkina Faso with a 20 million population generates 900billion CFA which translates to N562 billion annually.
‘We, at Western Lotto Nigeria Limited, wish to reassure all our stakeholders – regulators, operators, agents and stakers – that we are irrevocably committed to the cause of sanitising the gaming industry and putting a stop to the age-long rip-off of Nigeria and Nigerians by a few who have turned themselves into a mafia in the gaming industry. We will not be deterred by the campaign of calumny being mounted by the discredited operators and their collaborators in high places.’