INTERVIEWS NIGERIA Adekunle Adeniji – We experienced more engagement online 10 months ago Adeleye Awakan Post Views: 1,130 Adeleye Awakan in a question and answer session with the Adekunle Adeniji – Managing Director Betbonanza Nigeria, is background in the Nigeria gaming industry and the company he represent and the success so far in the Nigerian gaming ecosystem. I am Adekunle Adeniji, a gaming professional. I started around 10 years ago from school. I started my journey in the industry by creating a forum online where players could share ideas with one another. It could be said I was the first person in Nigeria to create a platform for gambling online in Nigeria. From there, I joined Bet9ja as their first employee to head their virtual products unit and helped build the success and popularity to the growth of virtual products in Nigeria. I resigned from Bet9ja after working for the company for 5 years to co-founded Betking. I left Betking early and currently work as the Managing director of betBonanza in Nigeria Adeleye Awakan: Betbonanza as a brand, background and, success so far in Nigeria? Adekunle Adeniji: BetBonanza launched its commercial operations June 12 2019 as a sportsbetting company in Nigeria with presence both online and retail. We currently have presence in 28 states in Nigeria. Adeleye Awakan: During the suspension of major sports leagues in Europe that upended the gambling industry, especially sportsbook operators, due to the Covid-19 pandemic crisis and the restriction of movement. From a business perspective, what impact did it has on Betbonanza sales? Adekunle Adeniji: Our business relies heavily on sports, so it’s no surprise that during the pandemic we were heavily affected coupled with all our shops being closed. Thankfully, the leagues are back and all we are trying to do now is to get back to where we were before the pandemic. Adeleye Awakan: The suspension of European leagues several sports betting companies were offering different game products to keep their business going. What sort of game product was Betbonanza engage customers with as there are unavailability of sports? Adekunle Adeniji: We relied on virtual products, casinos and e-sports. Adeleye Awakan: How did your customers react to these products you offered? Adekunle Adeniji: It wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be. Customers reacted positively and engaged with the products. Adeleye Awakan: There have been reports going around about that customers in Africa were shifting to iGaming betting and those that have never gone online signed-up to different sports book platform during the lockdown in Africa. For Betbonanza as a company did you experience such from your customers or is it purely retail? Adekunle Adeniji: We have presence both online and retail. During the lockdown all retail outlets were closed so everyone was forced to go online. Yes, there were more sign ups than usual and also there was more engagement online. Adeleye Awakan: If so you have new customers that signed up online during lockdown, but since the ease of lockdown in Nigeria those that place wager online during lockdown are they still patronizing you online or there have shift they attention back to retail? Adekunle Adeniji: The shift is gradually going back to Retail as this is not going anyhere anytime soon. However, it is good to note that we will always have our online customers. Since the ease of the lockdown, the shops are back to normal operations. Online patronage is still there but obviously not at the same as during the lockdown period. Adeleye Awakan: Perhaps some stakeholders, experts in the gambling industry, are projecting a shift for customers in Africa from retail to online and knowing well that your core business is retail, While some expert says the shift to online is even close than first projected due to the health crisis, can you share your perspective on this take? Adekunle Adeniji: Well the shift will come eventually in Nigeria probably in the next 2-3 years. Especially, as the gaming industry becomes more accepted to the different spheres of society. For us at BetBonanza, we are well positioned for this shift as we have an experienced team managing our day to day online operations. We are a strong company both in the retail and online space. Adeleye Awakan: The ease lockdown in Nigeria and resumption of some major sports leagues in Europe, how has Betbonanza reacted to this? And how as sales been like in comparison to when restriction of movement? Adekunle Adeniji: It’s been a gradual process; we are gradually exceeding our pre-covid sales. Adeleye Awakan: What is Betbonanza doing to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak to remain afloat in business as we have often seen many companies are placing their workers on furlough? Why some is sacking even some are facing bankruptcy? Adekunle Adeniji: Of course, betBonanza was not oblivious to the impact of the pandemic and had to undergo some cost reducing measures but we are confident that we are back on track and in line with budget projections., Adeleye Awakan: Marketing is one department betting companies have reduced in their budget due to the health crisis. Some brands have been doing continuous marketing to retain their customers that are dormant during the suspension of significant football leagues regarding this. What is Betbonanza doing to keep its customers? Adekunle Adeniji: Betbonanza continues with its grass-root marketing which is direct and has an immediate impact on the environment, Adeleye Awakan: Influencer marketing is the prevailing trend in Nigeria now in which several sportsbook brands have been going into agreement with the notable ambassador in Nigeria. I can see Betbonanza is doing similar overall from the business perspective what impact as this had for the company in Nigeria? Adekunle Adeniji: The Brand, Daniel Amochachi has had considerable impact on our brand as he is a recognizable figure and also known to be someone people can trust. Adeleye Awakan: There has been the issuance of license tussle in the last couple of years between the National Lottery Regulatory Board and Lagos State Lotteries Board on the position of where do you have the right to operate in the country. Regarding this, the state government blocked specific companies from advertising in the Lagos. Because there don’t have a Lagos State gambling license, while the Federal license issuance (NLRC) National Lottery Regulatory Commission made a press release to this said as long as you have (NLRC) license, you could advertise anywhere in Nigeria and operate. Some experts say Nigeria is the biggest loser if we don’t find a lasting solution to this. From your perspective as an operator, what do you think is the lasting solution to this menace between two regulatory boards? Adekunle Adeniji: Definitely, both parties have to come together and agree on guidelines to operate. Its really a no-brainer but this kind of thing hinders investment from coming into the industry. Eg. VAT is collected by the FIRS but the revenue is shared across the states. Its all about political will to do the right thing. Adeleye Awakan: In recent years, many international betting brands have established themselves in the Nigerian gambling scene, especially online operations. Do you see them as a competitor since the shift to online is imminent in Africa? Share your opinion on this. Adekunle Adeniji: There are over 200m in the country and 70% are in the 18-35 year old bracket. You do the maths. This market is huge. However, having said that this is where we expect the NLRC to enforce proper regulation so that local operators are not burnt. Adeleye Awakan: Localization is often the timeline for any company that want to consider gambling business in Africa from your experience in the industry what do you think company interested in Africa should considered before starting gambling business in the region? Adekunle Adeniji: Having an excellent, user-friendly platform is key in additional to local expertise. Adeleye Awakan: In the next five years, where do you see the Betbonanza brand in the Nigeria and Africa as a whole? Adekunle Adeniji: If not no.2, no. 1 in the Industry. Adeleye Awakan: What advice do you have for some investors out there that are interested in the Nigerian gambling market? Adekunle Adeniji: Understand your market and consider collaborations with other operators. Adeleye AwakanAuthor E-play Africa, sports betting reviews, thoughtful leardership articles in Africa gambling industry, marketing gaming platforms in Africa with strong networking relationship with gaming operators in Africa, Expertise in PR, marketing communication, and consultant on gaming in Africa. 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