Africa Confronts Rise in Sports Betting – VOA Zimbabwe

Gamblers and experts say many punters see Africa’s growing sports betting industry as a source of regular income, and a possible path out of poverty. But critics warn its rise is underpinned by widespread poverty, unemployment and poor or non-existent regulation.

Continent-wide data on sports betting is not readily available, though snapshots from different countries show its growing popularity. Online gaming platforms have enjoyed recent growth, driven by widening adoption of mobile payments and pandemic-era demand for digital entertainment. Much of the betting focuses on soccer games in Europe, while more recently the World Cup has been the major draw.

A South African government survey from 2017, the most recent on gambling, found that sports betting grew 14% per year from 2008 to 2016, even as the number of South Africans who gambled fell from 57% to a third of the country’s adult population. Today, online sports betting makes up 45% of the South African gambling market, “a starkly different picture to just 10 years ago when casinos held 80% of market share,” said the National Gambling Board.

African gamblers often count on winnings to fund daily needs.

In Zimbabwe, where most people in formal employment don’t make more than $100 a month, sports betting “has become a major income earner even for those who are in formal employment,” said Japhet Moyo, secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. “The problem is that it becomes addictive and some lose their salaries to betting.”

A Ugandan parliamentary committee earlier this year suggested banning day-time betting.


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