Corporate Social responsibility (CSR) in the Nigerian gambling space should become a strong policy issue for both the government and the industry as a whole. CSR should be more than just an economic (profit maximization) orientation to operators; it should be a movement that will balance the economic (profit), legal (following rules & regulations), ethical (what is right, just & fair to avoid harm) and social benefits (contributing resources to improve communities & life).
There should be consideration for environmental, social and governance factors (ESG) in the operation of gambling businesses within the industry, this will greatly influence key business decisions and consumer preferences as well as bolster the confidence of the public.
When Organisations’ pursuit of economic goals is associated with negative social impacts; there is need to have policies, initiatives that will showcase balance. In the case of the gambling industry in Nigeria, where the activities is already viewed negatively as a vice in a lot of quarters, the need to show that it can also be a source of opportunity, social innovation and empowerment, is more crucial now more than ever. CSR for organizations could be in the form of “responsible environmental marketing, sustainable design and green building practices, activities that will improve surrounding communities etc.
When operators perform CSR in any form, it could develop positive attitude in people and project a positive image for gaming operations in general. It is important for people to know that even though they didn’t win, when they play a game, that somehow their communities win, through these acts of CSR.
For the government, in order to optimize long term sustainability in the industry, there is need to extend CSR (good causes) beyond regulatory compliance of operators; to include ethical activities, especially in the face of public opinion & welfare concerns on responsible gaming and minimization of gambling related harm.
CSR for the government and lottery Commission could be in the scope of “construction of responsible gaming policies and initiation of guidelines, for the operation of socially responsible gambling businesses”, across the country. It could also be the “implementation of broader social & environmental strategies” for the sanitation of the environment; it could be in the form of partnership with NGO’s and charities; community investment initiatives and creation of adequate welfare providers, whose priority would be to ensure the minimization of the harmful effects of gambling on consumers and those related to them.
In an industry with over 24 national licensed lottery operators, numerous state & federal licensed sports betting companies, licensed casino operations and other approved online & mobile gaming operations; each marketing and gunning for a profitable share of the market; it is expected that there will be increase in problem gambling. It is then imperative for policy makers and operators to come together to weigh various angles and considerations in order to find a way to cushion the adverse effects of the industry activities as well as achieve long term economic and social sustainability in gambling operations in the country.