The UK betting giant Betway has been continuing to expand into the potentially lucrative African market. Since entering the continent by setting up shop in Kenya in early 2015, they have since expanded to Nigeria, Ghana and more recently South Africa with the expectation being they will continue to roll out their services across the continent.
Africa has huge potential as a betting market with generally favorable timezones for fans to enjoy sports (especially football) broadcast the European tournaments/leagues. Combine this with a local passion for many sports that are favorable for betting (football, cricket, rugby etc) and it is clear to understand why such effort is being made to develop the African gambling industry.
Let’s take a look at the key reasons why international betting firms are so rapidly expanding their operations across the African continent.
1) A Huge Interest In Gambling
There have been plenty of prospective studies undertaken that highlight the demand for quality betting services in Africa. The recent moves into the South African market are based on statistics released by their own government suggesting 50% of adults regularly place sports bets. Even more interesting is that these figures are estimated to be similar across most of Africa below the Sahara.
Back in 2014 PriceWaterhouseCoopers estimated that by 2018 the African betting markets would be valued at close to $40bn. Much of this gambling takes place at a local level, so for online companies with quality smartphone apps, this represents a massive opportunity to take a share in a lucrative market. Combine with this an estimate that the one-seventh of Nigerians aged between 18-40 (representing the majority of smartphone users) gamble around $15/day and the potential is clear to see.
2) Very Lenient/Non-Existant Regulations
Gambling is naturally frowned upon/illegal in the Islamic nations that make up the majority of northern Africa, but from the center downwards it is pretty much open game. Countries are keen to attract investment from companies that are transparent and taxable, with governments going out of their way to facilitate quick and easy access to their infrastructure.
In fact, South Africa is the only country currently with formal regulations on any form of betting. You can bet that as the big name companies establish a presence that will change soon, but paying such license fees will be small change compared to most other international markets.
3) A Universal Interest In Sports
Football is the king but there’s plenty of interest in other sports especially in SA. As mentioned above the timezones are convenient for fans to watch – and bet upon – matches broadcast from Europe. The EPL is by far the closest followed league which is also by a good distance the most integrated into betting markets. Offering African fans the chance to place their bets using a smartphone while a match is in progress thousands of miles away is guaranteed to be incredibly popular.
4) Mobile Gaming Is Booming
If it weren’t for the rapid uptake in smartphone ownership and usage across Africa then there’s no way that such investment would currently be taking place. Most African countries are investing heavily in developing their tech sectors by increasing access to the reliable high-speed internet and public wifi that online gaming demands. As has been seen in many other international markets, free play ‘gambling’ games – especially slots – tend to encourage a more general interest and openmindedness towards any kind of betting.
One of the reasons why mobile betting is set to take off is that international companies will accept very small wagers for zero commission/fees. For example, someone in a poor village can place a tiny stake on a football accumulator and potentially win a large sum. Sure it may sound unlikely, but compared to playing state lotteries the odds are much better.
Monitoring the expansion of the gambling industry across Africa is going to be very interesting over the next few years. South Africa has everything in place already making it an easy place for the big name companies to set up home. However, the real money may well be in entering the smaller local markets.