Oyo Gaming Board engages Stakeholders on responsible gaming
By Olubunmi Osoteku, Ibadan
The Oyo State Gaming Board has, in an interactive forum, engaged gaming operators and other stakeholders on better ways of improving the gaming business in the state.
The forum, which took place on Wednesday, during the Oyo State Gaming Board annual stakeholders interactive forum, themed: ‘Redefining Responsible Gaming’, was held at the House of Chiefs, House of Assembly Complex, Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan, the state capital.
At the event, Governor Seyi Makinde, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs Olubamiwo Adeosun, noted that the state government would not create a situation whereby it would impoverish the people, all in the name of seeking to increase revenue, saying the welfare and interest of the people are of utmost importance to the government, as it prioritised the welfare of its citizens over revenue generation.
The Governor said “since this administration came on board, people have been our priority and so all policies you have observed that we are doing are for the people. Even though we recognise that what gaming does is to put revenues into the coffers of the state, but it is very clear that even as we pursue the revenue drive and not just in gaming but also everywhere, we ensure that the interest of the people are always considered first.”
Makinde commended the Oyo State Gaming Board for organising the meeting, saying the board had brought up very pertinent issues that needed to be addressed, as the theme of the stakeholders interactive forum, ‘Redefining Responsible Gaming’ would guide the operators, the regulators and even the gamers, on best practices in the gaming industry.
He noted: “It will also find the balance between generating revenue for the state and maintaining mental welfare of the people of Oyo state. In addition, it will redefine the entire culture of gambling to accommodate only fun and entertainment.”
The Director-General, DG, of the Board, Mr Olajide Boladuro, said the forum was necessary, as part of activities to regulate the gaming industry in the state as the gaming and lottery industry was gaining traction in the country, saying the Board had taken it upon itself to address the issue of responsible gambling in the state based on the prospects of the industry; hence the theme of the forum.
Boladuro asserted that “while we are excited to tap into the enormous revenue potentials that the industry present, our priority is to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive. Problem and responsible gambling is a constant focus of ongoing research and advancement world-wide.”
The DG noted that the importance of proactive responsible gaming programmes was paramount as a result of the recent market studies, estimating that the global casino market alone would expand at a compounded annual growth rate of 10 percent over the next five years.
He expressed optimism that discussions from the forum would chart a new and better path for operators and other stakeholders in the gaming industry, urging parents/guardians to desist from sending their children/wards to gaming houses and warning operators of gaming and gambling outlets to desist from encouraging under-aged gambling, as there were strict penalties for erring operators.
One of the gaming operators in the state, Mr Akin Alabi, said the forum was the first of its kind in Oyo State that would help stakeholders to formulate policies that would grow the industry, which he described as very dynamic and relatively new, urging fellow operators and the public to always adhere strictly by the rules and policies agreed upon.
Alabi said “If you want to have a gaming industry, you’ve got to be responsible about it. Gaming is an adult product, something like alcohol, maybe a little bit of tobacco. If you have an alcoholic beverage, you’ve got to be well regulated and that’s how it is in the gaming industry as well. So the Gaming Board must come up with very strong policies that the operators must adhere to.”
He added that the operators too must start to regulate themselves through formulation of policies, rules and regulations.
The stakeholders forum, the third edition, also had two panel sessions which saw experts and stakeholders in different fields related to gaming exchanging views on ways of improving the sector.
Later in the day, the Board held a dinner/award ceremony to give recognition and commendations to deserving operators and other stakeholders in the sector.