Last week, we provided some legal foundation for lotteries done by service providers in the country. If you go here, you’d see some legal requirements that must be satisfied for licenses to be granted to such licensees. Now, we are asking; to what end are these lotteries? Assuming you get an SMS from your network provider; “Get an EXTRA 3MB bonus with 7 days validity when you buy the daily bundle.” – Is that a lottery? No. But you say, how is it different from the opening illustration in our last discussion? Why is there even a national interest in lottery schemes in Nigeria? Let’s provide some answers.
Though it’s easy to guess that lotteries are done with the aim of promoting the business of the particular company involved – putting more money in their pockets, popularizing their brand etc., the language of the National Lottery Act (NLA) 2005 tends to lay a slightly different emphasis. Just hold that thought a little while longer; we need to make a quick distinction. 

The NLA defines a lottery to “include any game, scheme, arrangement, system, plan, promotional competition or device for the distribution of prizes by lot or chance….” So right off the back, we can see that this is different from a sales promotion where you are sure to get the special or additional benefit as advertised if you participate. Did that answer the illustration we used earlier? It sure did. This distinction is necessary because in case of any breach, that is, you finally purchased the bundle but you did not get your 3MB you cannot found an action under the NLA. The proper legal regime under which the action should be instituted is outside the scope of our discussion.

Having said that, let’s now continue with our thought. You see, Section 35 of the NLA established the National Lottery Trust Fund and as we see in Section 19(2)(a) the license granted is subject to the payment of certain percentage sum into the Trust Fund as determined by the President. Now, this part is very important. Section 40 of the NLA stipulates that the proceeds of the Trust Fund shall be used in funding various projects approved by the federal government including the development of sports, education, social services, public welfare and relief, and management of natural disasters in Nigeria.
Now we see that the interests present in any given lottery scheme are multifarious. The licensees, participants, government and the citizens in general all stand to gain each time we participate in a lottery program. Till we meet again next week, we might want to keep our minds busy with the following thoughts. 

1. How well has the lottery scheme been implemented in ensuring the aims as set out in Section 40 of the NLA?
2. Apart from lottery programs by telecommunications companies can we think of any other examples? 

3. In the light of what we have discussed so far, how would you classify the popular “Baba Ijebu” in Lagos state? 

Have fun!

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Nigerian Law Today

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