Nigeria’s gaming industry is worth an estimated $70 billion as at 2016, according to lottery operator’s forum. That has continued to grow in leaps and bounds. At a gaming industry conference in 2021 attended by players including the minister of special duties and intergovernmental affairs, Senator George Akume, officials of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), and National Lottery Regulation Commission (NLRC).
Among others, the industry was reported to have generated an excess of N250 billion in 2019. Before the 2021 conference, a 2017 publication entitled ‘The Nigeria Gaming Industry,’ by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) predicted several factors, including a broadening customer base, influx of foreign entrants, partnerships, and increased regulation which is expected would further hasten the industry’s growth.
Another report ‘Nigeria Online Gaming Market (2021-2027), by 6Wresearch, a market intelligence and advisory centre published in February 2023, said the industry “is projected to witness impressive growth during the forecast period on the back of the increase in the growth of cloud-based platforms with the growing digital era in the country.”
The commencement of operations by the National Lottery of Nigeria (NLN) affirms the reports’ accuracy. It is also a boon for the industry’s growth. Operated by Systems and Gaming Nig. Limited and regulated by the NLRC, it is innovative, expansive, and digital. It is poised to boost economic development and lead to transformational changes.
“The economic benefits of the National Lottery Nigeria are numerous. As well as providing a valuable source of revenue for the government, it will also create jobs and encourage entrepreneurship through its various initiatives,” managing director of the NLN, Olayiwola Onafowokan, explained before the commencement of operations in Abuja last month. He added: “Many Nigerians will get a chance to step into fortune and change their lives forever. A percentage of the proceeds from ticket sales will also be allocated to various charitable causes, helping to make a positive difference in the lives of Nigerians.
“An assessment of other climes, including the UK, shows that a national lottery, such as the NLN, can be beneficial and impactful. It positively changes winners’ lives while contributing significantly to socio-economic development. For instance, the National Lottery UK has created over 5,000 millionaires and raised above £40 billion for good causes. As of the year ending March 31, 2022, its funds went to areas including health, education, environment and charitable causes (40 percent). Sport got 20 percent, arts 20 per cent and heritage another 20 per cent.
The NLN offering games, including the Naija Mega Jackpot with N45 million starting prize, the 6/49 lotto and other instant games where Nigerians can win up to N50,000 every hour, is modelling itself after the British fashion. It is not about profit making but giving back. It will boost national development and facilitate infrastructure development which will go a long way in further empowering Nigerians. Earnings from the lottery will be a boon for critical projects, including road construction, building, and equipping hospitals, schools and others for the benefit of Nigerians.
“Our operations provide access to affordable and fun gaming experiences, allowing more people to win whooping amounts of money in prizes. Additionally, we are introducing initiatives such as the ‘Good Causes Foundation’, which will help to facilitate development in various areas in the country and create more entrepreneurship and job opportunities for Nigerians.
In addition, the National Lottery Commission has said it will increase revenue for the government to fund other vital projects,” Onafowokan affirmed. Commendably, the NLN is also using strategic partnerships to boost its activities, just like the 2017 PwC report had recommended. The report noted, “partnerships have become important in delivering a successful gaming experience.
Telecommunication and payment companies are making gaming more accessible to mobile users.” The NLN has keyed into this with a strategic partnership with the country’s telecoms companies, to give Nigerians a pleasant experience.”Gamers can play our games on USSD by dialing the *9966# code. We are very excited about this partnership with the telcos as this will allow millions of Nigerians to participate in the National Game and allow them to win mouthwatering prizes.”
Onafowokan said.Aside from the partnership, NLN has offerings different from other providers. “We offer a wide range of lottery games, including the Naija Mega Jackpot with a whooping 45 million Naira starting prize, to the 6/49 lotto and our other instant games, where Nigerians can win up to N50,000 every hour. Furthermore, we offer our customers a range of promotional offers and loyalty rewards.
There are fun instant games like Pick 3 and scratch card games such as Scratch USSD, Easy Win, and Jara, which are affordable with players able to play for as low as N100,” the MD disclosed. The excellent management and commitment to excellence, fairness, responsible gaming, and customer satisfaction have also set the NLN apart. This is in addition to integrity and transparency being its gold standard.
Onafowokan disclosed that an Integrity Committee “will be present at all live draws to observe the process and ensure it is conducted credibly. We are also regulated by the National Lottery NLRC, which will work closely with us to ensure that all processes comply with the rules and regulations. We also have strict procedures to ensure that all draws are conducted fairly and without bias. “The country’s gaming industry has recorded impressive growth since the 2017 study. Current developments, especially the coming on-board of NLN, are set to catalyse change further.