Is remote gambling permitted and, if so, what types?
Remote gambling is permitted throughout the country, although it is not yet codified in a regulation at the national level; however, some states have already passed a remote gambling regulation. The most common form of remote gambling offered in Nigeria is sports betting, which is also conducted through mobile gaming (via telecommunications networks) and the internet.
In practice, a licensed operator can provide mobile gambling services to Nigerian residents provided they meet the requirements of the telecommunications operator and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
What are the criteria for obtaining a licence to operate remote gambling?
There is no licence distinction between land-based or remote operations, so in essence the criteria are essentially the same; however, the different states may have other criteria peculiar to them.
Ordinarily, an application must be submitted to the concerned gambling regulatory authority. This application shall consist of an application letter, a non-refundable fee, evidence of business incorporation in Nigeria, a detailed plan of the proposed gaming activity, the business structure, and evidence of financial and technical structure.
How do the licensing criteria for remote gambling operators differ from those applicable to land-based operators?
There is no difference in the licensing criteria applicable to remote gambling operators and land-based operators.
May operators located in other countries offer internet gambling to consumers in your jurisdiction without obtaining a licence there?
The law has not yet been amended to sanction or penalise such operators, but local operators have pushed for legislation that prohibits the targeting of Nigerian punters by unlicensed operators, while regulators also view such activity from the point of tax losses. In practice, some regulators such as Lagos state have, in the past, issued cease-and-desist notices to operators.
May operators licensed in your jurisdiction offer internet gambling to consumers in other countries?
Locally, there is no law prohibiting Nigerian operators from offering internet gambling to consumers outside Nigeria. However, such operations will be subject to anti-money laundering regulations regardless.
What tax rate applies to each form of remote gambling?
Gaming tax rates apply uniformly to both land-based and remote gambling. At the national level, it is 20 per cent of gross gaming revenue, while in states like Lagos state it is 2.5 per cent. These rates are determined from time to time, according to the concerned regulatory authority. The NLRC has recently mandated its licensed sports book operators to pay 1 per cent and 2 per cent gross on monthly sales turnover to the NLRC and National Lottery Trust Fund respectively when due. Also, instances where short code services (Short Message Service or Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) are used by operators to provide betting services, the following tax rate will be applicable: 2 per cent and 3 per cent on gross monthly sales turnover to the NLRC and National Lottery Trust Fund respectively when due. Further, the Federal Inland Revenue Service has mandated 5 per cent VAT on a number of taxable consumer goods and services. Lottery and gambling activities have been included in this new development. It is pertinent to note that the collection of VAT will be an automated process to ensure efficiency and transparency.
This article was co-authored by Nnedi Mgbemena.