Are Gaming, Pool Betting, Lottery Constitutionally Within Residual List?

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Not a few constitutional rows that have long existed between the Federal Government and the states, particularly Lagos, before the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) won the presidential election in 2015, have been resolved till date. This is despite the fact that same party is now in control of the center and most of the States, unlike in previous years.

Some of the controversial issues one would have expected the APC-led administration to have settled by now, either by truce or constitutional means but are still flustering, include the long-time demand for a Special Status for Lagos.

Others are the dispute between the National Assembly and Lagos State Assembly over which of them is legally competent to make laws governing Nigeria’s intrastate and inland waters, as well as the yet-to-be resolved constitutional spat over the creation of additional 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDA) by Lagos State. Till date, the LCDAs are not constitutionally recognized.

There is also the lingering faceoff between the Lagos State Lotteries Board (LSLB), the Association of State Gaming Regulators (ASGR), consisting of 20 States, and the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC).

Raising concern over some of the lingering constitutional matters, some major players and investors in the lottery and gaming industry have raised the alarm over the burden of double taxation, which according to them, “is wrecking their businesses.” But a major one that is in focus is the ongoing standoff between ASGR, LSLB and NLRC over the issue of National Lottery Licenses.

A human rights lawyer, Dr. Femi Aborisade, in his remark, cited section 1 (1) of the Taxes and Levies (Approved list for collection) Amendment Order 2015, which provides that the Federal Government, state and local governments have authority to collect different categories of taxes.

He noted that Part II, item No. 5 of the Schedule to the Taxes and Levies Act authorises the State Government to collect ‘Pools betting and lotteries, gaming and casino taxes,’ whilst Parts I and III spell out other types of taxes collectable by the federal and local governments, respectively.

According to him, “To the extent that lotteries and gaming taxes are not specifically provided for in the Constitution and an Act of the Federal Government has made specific provision authorising the state government to so collect, it would be unlawful for any other arm of government to share in the collection of lotteries and gaming taxes. That would amount to double taxation, which is not supported by law.

Aborisade also stated that in applying the above principles to the question of double or multiple taxation on lotteries and gaming, the state law which makes provision for collection of taxes on lotteries and gaming by the State Government is not harmful as it is consistent with the Taxes and Levies (Approved List for Collection) Act, 2004.

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