The Bookmakers association of Nigeria, initiated a lawsuit at the Federal High Court, in order to determine the legitimate regulator of gaming businesses in the country. The industry has raised a lot of concern on the burden of multiple taxation, on gaming operations in the country, and this recurring issues has been the subject of several litigation over the years.
In the Suit NO: FHC/L/CS/15992020 filed before Hon. Justice I.N Oweibo of the Lagos High Court, seeking determination of the issue of which body, has the power to legislate on tax pertaining to the gaming industry; the Judge decided that the Federal Government, should be the sole regulator of gaming operations in the country. The Judge in his decision, opined that the constitution is clear on the position of lottery in the exclusive list, and thus the National Assembly, can legislate solely on gaming matters.
This is not the first judgment in favour of the Federal Government on gaming legislation. A few years ago, In NLRC Vs Attorney General of Lagos State; a suit seeking to determine whether federal licensed lottery operators, should be forced to obtain state lottery license, in order to operate in states. The Court ruled that the Federal licensed lottery operators, were not required to obtain state licenses, in order to operate their business nationwide.
That judgment notwithstanding, the state governments, especially Lagos State, continued to harass federal licensed operators till date. Today the matter of the regulation of lottery activities in the country is pending before the Supreme Court, for yet another interpretation, on the long standing issue.
Now the Bookmakers Association has also obtained judgment from the high court in favour of the Federal Government, as the sole operator of betting businesses in the country.
Fingers crossed, on whether this determination of the court, will put an end to the back and forth impasse between the Federal and State Governments, on regulation of betting activities or if there will be an appeal as usual.
The State Governments’ contention is that the word “gaming or lottery was not used, either in the Exclusive or Concurrent List in the constitution, which then puts it in the Residual List, and that gives States the power to solely legislate and collect tax from the gaming industry, without interference from federal government.
Hopefully there will be a final resolution soon, when the Supreme Court makes its pronouncement on the matter.