Africa’s gaming gold rush: Unveiling the surge in online gambling

The gambling market in Africa is experiencing significant growth and transformation, shaped by various factors such as economic development, technological advancements, and regulatory changes.

According to projections, the market could grow at an annual rate of approximately 5.87% from 2024 to 2029, reaching a market volume of around $2.46 billion by the end of the forecast period. This growth is indicative of the expanding role of digital technologies in the region, which is facilitating easier access to online gambling platforms .

We have identified some of the main drivers for these high expectations.

Growing, Youthful Population

Unlike the more mature European markets, Africa has a young, growing population. More than 60% of Africa’s population is under the age of 25, and this demographic is expected to grow further.

The predominance of young adults is pivotal for the gambling market as they are more likely to engage with technology, including online betting and gambling. There’s a strong interest in sports among African youth, particularly football, which aligns closely with sports betting activities.

As this demographic enters the workforce, their disposable income increases, potentially increasing their participation in gambling activities. However, it also raises concerns about responsible gambling and the need for effective regulations to prevent gambling addiction among young people .

Robust Economic Growth

The economic outlook for Africa in 2024 is broadly positive, with the continent expected to be among the fastest-growing regions globally. Real GDP growth across Africa is projected to average around 4% in 2024, which outpaces the global average growth rates.

Significant growth is expected in countries like Niger, Senegal, and Rwanda, among others, with economic activities benefiting from decreasing commodity dependence and increasing investment in infrastructure and other key growth sectors​.

Moreover, East Africa is highlighted as a particularly dynamic region, with countries like Ethiopia and Kenya contributing significantly to the continent’s growth prospects, driven by the services sector including travel, tourism, and telecommunications​

These economic improvements in several African countries are increasing disposable incomes, allowing more people to participate in leisure activities such as online gambling.

Increasing Internet Penetration

As more Africans gain access to the internet, particularly through mobile devices, the potential customer base for online gambling expands.

The World Bank’s Digital Economy for Africa (DE4A) initiative has significantly boosted internet access across the continent. From 2019 to 2022, broadband internet access rose from 26% to 36% of Africa’s population.

The average broadband speed increased, and the cost of mobile data decreased, making digital services more accessible and promoting a vibrant, inclusive digital economy across the continent.

Technological Innovations in Payments

Innovations such as mobile payments and enhanced security features make online gambling more accessible and trustworthy.

Mobile payment technologies, such as M-Pesa, Airtel Money, and MTN Mobile Money, have become ubiquitous across many African countries. These platforms allow users to deposit, withdraw, and transfer money using their mobile phones, without needing access to traditional banking services.

Several igaming brands in the more established European markets, such as Finnish, have seen significant growth after the adoption of easy access, quick Pay N Play systems.

Emerging Regulatory Frameworks

Many African countries are moving towards establishing or improving regulatory frameworks for gambling, which could lead to more licensed and regulated entities entering the market, ensuring a safer gambling environment.

The evolving regulatory frameworks in African online gambling are increasingly mirroring established global practices. This trend is driven by the need to manage the burgeoning online gambling market effectively, including sports betting.

Recent regulatory actions, like Nigeria’s crackdown on unlicensed operators, highlight the continent’s efforts to formalize and regulate the sector more stringently. These developments indicate a move towards stronger regulatory oversight, aiming to attract legitimate operators while curbing illegal activities.

However, the regulatory landscape across Africa remains varied and complex, necessitating tailored approaches for different markets.

Increased Local and International Investment

As the market grows and stabilizes, it should attract more investments from both local and international companies. This is evident from various industry conferences and pitch events in Africa, showcasing new startups and technologies in the gambling and betting markets.

One of the largest events is Sigma Africa, the 2024 edition of which is hosted in Cape Town, South Africa. The agenda includes 2,500 delegates, over 150 speakers, and more than 100 exhibitors, featuring a mix of industry leaders, entrepreneurs, and influencers.

Key activities encompass cultural tours, startup pitches, exclusive networking dinners, and an awards gala. We highly recommend those interested in the African gambling scene to attend, or at least to follow the news on their website.

Key takeaways

As Africa’s online gambling market continues to expand, driven by a youthful population, increased internet penetration, and economic growth, it is poised to redefine leisure and entertainment across the continent. The sector’s rapid growth is becoming a trending topic among economists and business analysts, who recognize its potential to become a significant contributor to the African economy.

However, this growth brings with it a need for robust regulatory oversight to ensure gambling remains a safe and responsible activity. Future trends might include further technological innovations like artificial intelligence and blockchain to enhance user experience and security.

Yet, the industry must address challenges such as gambling addiction and ensure sustainable practices that do not exploit vulnerable populations.

The development of comprehensive policies that balance market growth with social responsibility will be critical for the sustainable advancement of the gambling sector in Africa.


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