By Emmanuel Afonne
Mr Lanre Gbajabiamila, the Director-General of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), has proposed the establishment of Africa Gaming Regulators Association to address money laundering and terrorism financing in Africa.
Gbajabiamila made the proposal while presenting a paper at the ongoing 2023 International Gaming Regulators Association (IGRA) Conference in Botswana.
He also called for the establishment of West Africa Gaming Regulators Association (WAGRA) to facilitate regional cooperation and collaboration.
Gbajabiamila said money laundering, terrorism financing and syndicate gaming were serious threat to the gaming industry in Africa.
He, however, called for an urgent need to address the issues.
“These associations will play a crucial role in information sharing, developing standard guidelines, and advancing regulatory efforts to combat money laundering, gambling-related crimes, and other illicit activities within the African gaming industry.
“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,” Gbajabiamila said.
He said the African gaming industry had demonstrated capacity to drive economic growth, generate employment, attract foreign investments, and promote tourism.
Gbajabiamila said the industry had the risk of being exploited for money laundering and financing terrorist activities.
This, he said, called for the implementation of stringent regulations to combat money laundering, while fostering innovation in the gaming sector.
Gbajabiamila listed lack of synergy among African states and the absence of robust global standards to monitor money laundering as other challenges of the industry.
He noted that regulatory disparities among African nations create vulnerabilities that can be exploited by criminals, noting that to address these challenges, there must be collaboration implementing “Know Your Customer” procedures.
Gbajabiamila also called for the reporting of suspicious transactions, conducting regular audits, and promoting information sharing among regulatory bodies.
“Syndicate gaming involving illegal gambling activities operated by organised criminal groups poses another threat.
“I advocate for stronger regulations, information sharing, and regional cooperation to tackle this issue.
“The proposed solutions should include the harmonisation of gaming regulations, enhanced financial intelligence units, public awareness campaigns, the utilisation of technology, strengthening legal frameworks, and the establishment of specialised units.
“There should be international cooperation and capacity building as vital aspects of the strategy,” he added.
“The fight against money laundering, terrorism financing, and syndicate gaming in the African gaming industry requires close coordination among African nations, strong legal framework and robust enforcement mechanisms.”
“The establishment of AGRA and WAGRA is a significant step towards achieving these objectives,” he said. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma