Africa’s growing gaming ecosystem

More than 420 million people who live on the African continent are of ages 15 to 35. This makes it the perfect spot for a number of youth-related activities to thrive here.

The continent’s precious resources have been successfully tapped by loads of industries during recent years and the gambling and sports betting industry have reached impressive numbers in countries like Nigeria, Kenya, Senegal or Ghana, to name just a few. By 2023, the international gambling market is expected to reach revenues of more than $525 billion and Africa is expected to play an important role in this growth.

Since 2018 the international gaming event, ICE Africa, is held early in October attracting more than 1500 visitors. Being the only pan-African gaming event, ICE Africa is an important platform for anyone within the gaming industry, from start-ups to established operators. Among the speakers we find more than 60 of the worlds most influential leaders within the global gaming industry, a strong indicator of the importance of the role Africa plays in the growth of the gaming industry.

ICE Puts Africa On The iGaming Map

The recent years gambling boom across Africa is only at its early stage. While the European gambling market has reached its peak, the industry giants search for new markets to develop and the interest for the African region is high. When industry experts from 26 different jurisdiction around the world were attending the ICE Africa event of 2019, it definitely puts a light on the global interest for “Africa’s gaming ecosystem”. The success of this event is definitely a confirmation of the strength of the African iGaming market and we will for sure see further investments across Africa in the years to come.

The gambling market in Kenya alone currently generates $2 billion on a yearly basis. However, given the young age of gamblers here due to the young population on the continent, some African countries have started a fight against the fast rise of betting. Uganda and Rwanda have already been introduced to a new set of licensing requirements, with restrictions being added to the gambling operations belonging to betting companies here.

Let’s take a closer look at the top 5 gambling countries in the African region;

1. Kenya

This country is the undisputed leader when it comes to the largest amount of money spent on gambling. While youngsters in other countries usually gamble once a month, Kenyan bettors visit their favorite venues once a week. Kenya is the third-largest gambling market right after South Africa and Nigeria when it comes to revenue. However, the country has the largest number of participants from all African nations. Around75 percent of bettors prefer to use their mobile phones. The country currently has the largest number of mobile users who gamble on their devices (96 percent).

The Kenyan government has expressed its concern towards the fast growth of gambling among youngsters and the risk of addiction. The deportation order that the country has recently adopted in May 2019 has brought some fresh gambling regulations into the spotlight. Among them, the banning of outdoor and social media gambling ads.

2. Nigeria

Nigeria is, together with Ethiopia, the fastest growing nation when it comes to smartphone connections. Access to mobile internet has made it possible for the nation to embrace betting in more than one form. Nigerians can choose from sports (international football is on top) and local lotteries run by private, licensed companies. The incredibly small buy-in can go as low as 1 penny. This is highly appealing for anyone looking for a fun form of entertainment that could generate a win. Not much is written about gaming in Nigeria but the article on the international site shows that Nigerian players spend around $25 million on betting on a daily basis. Without a doubt, sports betting is popular in Nigeria and the access to smartphones have played an important role in this development!

3. South Africa

South Africa is one of the biggest gambling markets on the continent. Gambling has been strictly restricted in South Africa since 1673. South Africa’s Gambling Act of 1965 officially banned all gambling with the exception of horse racing, as it was considered a sport. In the seventies, the first casinos were opened in areas called homelands, but few citizens could access them. In 2004, a different National Gambling Act repealed its 1996 version. The National Gambling Amendment Act was introduced in 2008. Casino games are only legal in their brick-and-mortar form here. The 2004 and the 2008 regulations only allow online sports betting venues, while prohibiting virtual casinos. Nevertheless, lots of people have discovered the loophole of the law regarding foreign operated offshore casinos and play at those.

The most popular forms of gambling in South Africa are the National Lottery with close to 97 percent of the population participating in it, along with slots, scratchcards, horse racing, bingo and charity jackpot events. The gambling industry in South Africa is extremely appealing and this will generate greater revenues by the year.

4. Ghana

Gambling activities are entirely legal and properly regulated in the country by the Ghana Gaming Commission. Sports betting, land casinos, online casinos and lotteries are the main gambling activities on the territory of this country. Ghana runs its own national lottery draws organized weekly, but participants can also buy tickets for the greatest lotteries on the planet. Football is the preferred sport to bet on in phone, online or land sportsbooks.

5. Botswana

The gambling industry is well regulated and permissive with most gambling forms. Online casinos are legal here, as long as operators are licensed, with the Gambling Act in 2012 and the Gambling Regulations in 2016 offer the legal ground for gambling in Botswana, with the mention that all types of gambling should be regulated, including SMS or online betting. Foreign casinos online can also be legally visited by citizens of Botswana.

So What’s Behind The New Gaming Lifestyle?

The demographics of a young population across the African region significantly influence mobile use. The Sub-Saharan region is the fastest growing region when it comes to mobile subscribers. By 2025, the number of smartphone connections is expected to rise from 302 million in 2018 to 700 million. Today, around 239 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa use mobile internet on a daily basis. Developments within infrastructure during the last few years means that the majority of Africans today have access to fast internet at a cheap price. These factors are key to the development of sports betting in the region. International operators have joined partnership with local businesses to develop safe and secure banking methods, a necessity for the industry to grow safely. Plus, with currently no strict rules and regulations concerning the business operations of the betting platforms in Africa, growth is expected to be quicker than what the governments can adjust. With international operators waiting willingly to invest, the government is up for a race to adopt a gaming regulation that will protect both investors and players. Sports betting in Africa has never been as easy as it is today from a players perspective, but on the other hand, the challenges to keep gambling under control has never been more challenging.


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