Ghana vs South Africa: how do their gambling industries compare?

While different sectors of national economies have proven vulnerable to the ebbs and flows of the global market, one industry that has remained surprisingly robust of the decades is the real-money gaming industry.

The $449 billion a year global gambling market is a significant source of tourist dollars and tax revenues in both Ghana and South Africa, as both countries share the distinction of being arguably the most liberal in Africa when it comes to gambling legislation.

Ghana’s gambling industry overview

While many West African countries do not have any formal gambling market to speak of whatsoever, Ghana has a robust domestic industry worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Starting with the Lotteries Betting Act of 1960, Ghana’s government decided that casino gaming could be a stimulus for economic growth and tax revenues. This landmark legislation was quickly followed by the 1973 Gambling Machine Act and the Casino Licensing Act, which cemented Ghana’s reputation as a place for casino operators and platforms to do business.

Today, there are six government-backed casino resorts in the capital city, Accra, with the largest and most luxurious being the Victoria Casino, which is hugely popular among tourists. An estimated 45% of Ghanaians participate in real-money gaming on a regular basis, proving that this form of entertainment is not squarely aimed at attracting foreign tourist dollars.

South Africa’s gambling industry overview

South Africa’s gambling industry is the largest in Africa by far, being worth an estimated 30 billion rand last year (USD $1.8 billion). South Africans themselves are keen gamblers, with 96% playing the lottery on a regular basis and more than 25% playing slots and card games regularly.

In addition, the country has one of the region’s most developed markets for high-tech online gaming solutions. Anyone interested in playing online poker in South Africa would quickly find a massive range of platforms that operate legally in the country, providing all variants of poker to South African players.

However, much of the revenue from South Africa’s gaming industry is derived from tourism, owing to a large number of luxury casino resorts in the country. Among the most popular is the uber-luxurious 5-star Sun City Resort, which attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. Unlike virtually anywhere else in Africa, South Africa has fashioned itself as a gaming destination for tourists.

Both countries have highly promising, high-growth gambling industries, as well as reputations for liberal laws and strong gambling cultures. However, South Africa’s industry remains larger and more diversified in virtually every respect, although this could change in the future.


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