Malawi could be the next big gambling market

Malawi, officially the Republic of Malawi (formerly known as Nyasaland) is a landlocked country located in Southeast Africa. It shares borders with Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast, and Mozambique to the south, east and west. Malawi has the third biggest lake in Africa called Lake Malawi. The country is amongst the smallest in Africa.

Though, according to 2018 Census, the country has an estimated population of 17.5 million residents, which is expected to double by 2038. The capital city is Lilongwe official language is English, while the native language is Chichewa. Although, gambling is legal established under the Gaming Act No. 26 of 1996, as amended in 1998 as a statutory body has, in terms of section 4, the Gaming Board which has the responsibilities issuing licenses and oversee any gambling operations. The national lottery was controlled by the National Lotteries Board. However, these 2 entities merged and became the Malawi Gaming Board and Lotteries Authority which is responsible for regulating and controlling the gaming industry altogether in the country today.

However, as stated earlier since Malawi legalize gambling in 1996 with passing of the Gaming Act, officials within the country have been looking at how the nation can benefit from the associate revenues. Though, few months ago the Malawian government rolled out a proposal to expand the country gaming landscape and parts of the proposal is to increase the numbers of casinos, sport betting and other progressive licenses in the country. Though, despite gambling being legal in Malawi for over 20 years, there are just three-fully-licensed casinos in the country. Consequently, these are spread across just two cities – Blantyre and the nation’s capital Lilongwe and there are just one sport betting license in the country, considering the fact that the legislation has only been updated once in 2015, which is 12.5% of gross revenue tax was imposed on all of the gambling products by the tax law. However, there is no law regulating online gambling but since the government plans to expand is landscape sooner or later online gambling will require the attention needed in the country. Though, Malawian players are allowed to wage on international betting sites has they is no law which prohibits players from wagering.

Malawi Economic Situation

Although, gambling is being influence by economic situation of a country as well as the government infrastructural development programs of the country. Indeed, Malawi remains one of the poorest countries in the world despite making significant economic and structural reforms to sustain economic growth. These could be said is one of the reasons the government is planning to expand the gambling sector of the country to further increase it revenue. Though, the country’s development is guided by the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS), a series of five-year plans that contribute to the long-term goals outlined in Vision 2020. The current MGDS III, building a Productive, Competitive and Resilient Nation, will run through 2022 and focuses on education, energy, tourism and health. Consequently, by the end of 2019, Malawi economic growth is expected to reach 4.4%, increasing over the medium term to 5.0-5.5% according to the statistics report of the World Bank.

Mobile and Internet Landscape

Malawi has a competitive mobile landscape, with substantial opportunity for growth based on recent and continued increased in mobile users on penetration, according to the 2019 Malawi Digital Identity Country report has said. The GSMA report, which is an output of a project funded by UK Aid’s Department of International Development (DFID) for the benefit of developing countries, observed that the high penetration of foundational identity and up-to-date customer database held by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) provide strong foundations for innovation. According to GSMA, while 4G subscriptions remain low, Malawi is a relatively advanced market in terms of 3G subscription, having seen a strong increase in these subscriptions in recent years. The evolution of the connectivity landscape since 2G suggest that data-driven subscription will continue to increase this shift could have multiplier effects to the country gaming industry.

However, having set out the opportunities for more betting companies to invest in the country, meaning the country gambling industry is expected to have more popularization and variations in punters attitude to betting as it is expected mobile betting will also see further growth as well as generate more revenue by 2020.

Article by Adeleye Awakan

Associate/Editor Africa’s leading digital gaming magazine. For consultant on gaming in Africa, Bookmaker’s review, Content, Advertising, and Thoughtful leadership article contact: [email protected], Linkedin Adeleye Awakan.

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