By Seyifunmi Odunuga
In what could be described as an aggressive clampdown on illegal operations in the state, the Oyo State Gaming and Lottery Board on Wednesday shut down about ten gaming centres.
This is as the Board also reiterated the commitment of the government to fighting underage gaming among other sharp practices among operators in the state.
The enforcement team of the Board, led by the Director-General, Mr Olajide Boladuro toured areas like Agodi, Mokola, Sabo, Ojoo, Alakia, Gate in an exercise that lasted about six hours.
Some of the operators that were shut for operating against the laws of the state include Surebet, Inaolaji building, Agodi, Bestbet360, Western Lotto, Mokola and Surebet247, Sabo, Mokola.
Others are Betland, Agodi-Gate market, Bestbet360, Agodi, Bestbet360 Alakia and Betland, Ojoo.
Speaking, Boladuro said “In June 2020, there was a Federal High Court judgement that went in favour of the Oyo State government that it gives us the right to regulate, enforce and tax operators of gaming and lottery in our state.
“And this law has been enforced in states across the country. So, the exercise we are doing today is backed by the law and that is the most recent judgement being operated and used across the country to regulate the gaming and lottery industry.
“This exercise is being conducted by the board and we have planned it to ensure that all our operators are in compliance with the laws of Oyo state.
“The law was enacted in 2018 to ensure that we weed out illegal operators and people who have been non-compliant with the directives and regulations of the Board.
“We are basically looking out for illegal operators and those not complying with the state laws that are not doing the needful as far as doing business in Oyo state is concerned.
“What this exercise does is that it sends the right signal to all illegal operators and create a safe environment for the ones that are doing the needful. It’s been a long coming exercise because we knew there has been a lot of operators that are operating illegally by not registering with the board and following the rules and regulations of the game.
“So, we came out today to make sure we weed out those illegal operators and send a clear signal to other operators that the Oyo State government under the leadership of Governor Seyi Makinde will not tolerate the operations of illegal operators of gaming and lottery business in the state.”
Speaking on the presence of some underage at some gaming centres shut, the DG said “It was shocking because, during our last stakeholders’ meeting, we have sent clear signals as agreed to by the operators that underage gaming would not be tolerated in Oyo state.
“And to my surprise today, we walked into a store and saw some young lads sitting in the store and the operator already knows the implication of that under the law and we will use the law to do the needful concerning what we saw.
“But, we will continue to tell all parents and guardians and all operators that they should desist from the act of underage gaming.
“Governor Seyi Makinde is committed to making a business thrive by creating an enabling environment, so that is why we are sending this signal to the illegal operators.
“The focus is not to shut them out of business but to make them comply with the rules and laws guiding their operations.
“By this, they know they will have to regularise their business. As soon as they do the needful under the guidance of the law, their shops will be reopened promptly.”