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Africa and its love affair with Online Gambling key to the continent’s future growth


16 Apr 2019

Arguably the biggest untapped market in the gambling industry, the continent of Africa could have a significant impact over the next few years.

A small number of countries have already started to gain traction in this industry, with Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa already big players, while Uganda and Tanzania are also on the rise.

Such appeal is understandable on a continent where the temptation to win quick, easy money is often too hard to resist, with poverty being a widespread problem.

Gambling though, has long been common in most African countries, albeit illegally, with pool, cards and board games all popular for encouraging wagers.

Ugandan Lottery sparks gambling boom

The appearance of a national lottery in Uganda in 2004 laid the foundations to what could be possible, with the initiative proving to be a major hit in a country not long before, ravaged by war and governed with terror.

Not long after lottery was introduced, did casinos spring up enticing people in their numbers all looking to make a quick buck and change their life.

Africa’s retail gambling industry has gone from strength-to-strength over the last five years attracting millions of customers, though the sad reality is that the majority on this continent simply cannot afford it, often spiralling into debt and the borrowing to gamble again.

Popularity of Football shifts focus to sports betting

Football is basically a religion in Africa and with significant representation of professional players in Europe and the Premier League, it is unsurprising that this has helped to transition into a sports betting (mainly football) craze across the African continent.

This combined with the rising emergence and ownership of mobile phones has triggered a major increase in betting on football and according to a report from management consultancy, McKinsey&Company called ‘Mobile Services in Africa – Winning the battle for the customer’: “In Africa today, there are 100 million active mobile money accounts (used by one in ten African adults). This far exceeds customer adoption in South Asia, the second-biggest region for mobile money in terms of market share, with 40 million active mobile money accounts (used by 2.6% of adults).”

Kenya’s keen gambling addiction

This east African nation in particular has a love of gambling, with many enticed by the allure of instant cash.

A multi-million pound business in the country where much more is lost than it is won, though this has done nothing to deter gamblers, with many simply too addicted or involved to be able to rectify this, with university students (78 percent) understood to be one of the most active demographics.

Lola Okulo, communications officer of SportPesa (a Kenyan betting company), when asked if the accessibility of gambling was too much of a problem for young people said: “We encourage our customers to approach gaming as an entertainment activity, not as an investment or job.

          “They must be open to the possibility of winning or losing.”

Former MP Jakoyo Midiwo said: “There is no online gambling in the US, you go to casinos. The problem is bigger in Kenya because of mobile money.

          “As it is, your two-year-old child can bet [if they get hold of someone’s phone].”

A land of opportunity for innovative operators

While the economic landscape as a whole in Africa isn’t the strongest yet, it represents one of the biggest potential growth regions in the world, with countries such as Nigeria on the ‘watch list’ as a rapidly emerging nation.

As other industries develop and explode across the continent, it will bring employment and a better quality of life, as well as more disposable income to be injected back into the local economy.

Such opportunity at this level signifies just how big the potential is to really capitalise on what is, in the grand scheme of things a seriously untapped market in Africa, as yet unaffected by online gambling.