Malawi Approve New Sports Betting License

The National Lotteries Board (NLB) and Malawi Gaming Board (MGB) have approved eight sports betting companies to operate a game of chance in the country; the companies are expected to begin operation in Malawi after being approved.

The companies that have been issued approval include Betika, one of the leading betting firms in Kenya with a presence in eight African countries. The inclusion of Malawi will see the brand new in 9 countries to its name. Hollywoodbets is the leading brand in the South Africa market with a presence in Mozambique, and two other African countries other companies approved to operate Headsquare, Mobipay, Kuwina, and Betani. The Chief Executive Officer for Malawi Gaming Board, Foster Mlumbe, said they conducted a rigorous evaluation process, and out of 17 applicants, eight emerged successfully.

“This industry requires liquidity; when one wins, he needs to be paid promptly, so the evaluation was very critical to ensure that only applicants that have got the financial muscle should enter the industry.” – said Mlumbe.

Sports betting has gained popularity over the past few years, and some Malawians have become millionaires by betting on games of chance. In 2019, a man in Blantyre won K109 million, while in May last year, one person won K77 million after betting on football games. In 2020 the government introduced a 20 per cent Withholding Tax on winnings, and the tax became effective on 3rd November 2020 when the Taxation (Amendment) Act was gazette. Premier Bet, Premier Lotto, and World Star Betting are companies already operating in Malawi.

However, it is interesting that some tier-one betting firms have shown interest in the country’s gambling and betting industry, which has been long overdue and remains untapped. In recent years Malawi betting industry has shown signs of promises. As earmarked to possess an abundance of opportunities, despite its slow growth, many African countries have experienced exponential growth in the last couple of years. Thanks to the widespread use of mobile phones and mobile money penetration in the continent. The Malawian betting market is yet to take off, with a low internet penetration rate and unaffordable internet bundles for most Malawian populations.

Although recently the country has embarked upon digital infrastructural development program and private partnership to improve internet quality and penetration and make it affordable with a target of 80% internet connectivity by 2025 from the current level of 14% at the same time smartphone ownership to 51% by 2026 according to the Malawi Digital Economic Strategy prepared by the National Planning Commission (NPC). Affordability is the most significant barrier to the uptake of mobile phones and the internet, which is pivotal to the growth of the sports betting business in Africa from underground to a mainstream business venture today. However, the Malawian Gaming Board resulted from the 2019 publication.

The Gaming Board announcement that interested operators to apply for sports betting licenses, casinos, and other gaming licenses, is a result of the success that has seen eight betting companies approved to operate sports betting in Malawi. This approach is a sign of good things to come and an approach in the right direction for the lotteries and the gaming board, which have set exciting things to come in the country.

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