In order to tackle the increasing difficulties plaguing the African gaming sector, Lanre Gbajabiamila, the Director General of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), delivered a persuasive presentation at the International Association of Gaming Operators Conference(IAGR)2023 that was recently held in Botswana.
During his presentation, Gbajabiamila highlighted the critical need to tackle the challenges of money laundering, financing of terrorism, and syndicate gambling. These problems pose a significant risk to the growth and development of the gaming sector in Africa.
Gbajabiamila believes that the African gaming industry has the ability to stimulate economic progress, create job opportunities, allure overseas funding, and encourage tourism.
The African gaming industry’s rapid expansion is marred with challenges that need urgent attention. Although it has great potential and has emerged as a crucial driver of economic growth and government revenue.
It possesses the capacity to generate employment opportunities, attract foreign investments, promote tourism, improve income, technological advancements, and an increasing interest in gaming activities.
In the same vein, terrorists can exploit this industry to finance their operations covertly. However, the gaming industry comes with risks, such as, money laundering which allows criminals to hide their illegally obtained funds by disguising them as legitimate winnings from gambling activities.stated Lanre Gbajabiamila, Director General, National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC)
In addition, Gbajabiamila emphasized the possibility of exploitation for money laundering and funding terror operations associated with this industry. This underscores the importance of enforcing strict regulations to combat money laundering and facilitating creative growth in the gaming industry.
Several crucial issues were brought to light by Gbajaniamila, such as the dearth of cooperation among African nations and the inadequacy of strong international regulations to oversee the activity of money laundering.
The Director General of NLRC added that differences in regulations between African countries make them susceptible to being exploited by criminals. To combat this issue, Gbajabiamila proposed collaborative efforts to implement “Know Your Customer” practices, encourage reporting of suspicious transactions, conduct regular audits, and facilitate information exchange among regulatory bodies.
Another threat is posed by syndicate gaming, which entails illicit gambling activities run by organized criminal factions. To address this issue, Gbajabiamila called for more robust regulations, increased sharing of information, and greater regional collaboration.
Gbajabiamila suggested a range of remedies, which comprise aligning gaming regulations, reinforcing financial intelligence units, executing public awareness drives, leveraging technology, bolstering legal frameworks, and founding specialized units. NLRC IAGR Conference 2023
Gbajabiamila emphasized the importance of African nations collaborating to combat these risks in his presentation’s conclusion. Furthermore, he stressed the formation of the Africa Gaming Regulators Association (AGRA) and the West Africa Gaming Regulators Association (WAGRA), which will promote regional cooperation and coordination.
He emphasizes that these organizations have a pivotal role to play in sharing information, setting industry standards, and promoting regulatory efforts to address money laundering, gambling-related crimes, and other illicit activities in the African gaming sector. He concludes that combating the issues of money laundering, terrorism financing, and syndicate gaming in the African gaming industry necessitates extensive collaboration among African nations, a fortified legal framework, and rigorous enforcement mechanisms. The establishment of AGRA and WAGRA marks a significant stride in the direction of achieving these goals.