Status of Africa Gambling Industry Post-Covid-19 Lockdown

The Covid-19 pandemic threatened to wipe out almost a decade of development progress in Africa, as the effect of weaker health systems, lockdowns, and evaporating gambling industry and tourism hit, all at the same time, rendering millions of people jobless. The operators in the gambling industry had to recalibrate their businesses offering due to the suspension of live sports and national lockdowns in Africa.

In a nutshell, the retail betting business was severely hit as it is the widespread preferred choice for players in Africa. The gambling industry in the region is one of the sorted businesses experiencing exponential growth in the last five years. Even though the pandemic threatened the business survival, many operators are still counting their losses to date. However, companies with a robust online presence also felt the impact of the lack of live sporting event, notwithstanding the Covid-19 outbreak has taught us that they are always a boom at every crisis.

However, the crisis did one significant thing for Africa it accelerated online business, and one sector that benefited from the situation is the gambling industry and e-commerce space. It accelerated mobile online gambling and betting and during-lockdown and Post-Covid-19 lockdown as retail-centric players were turning to digital players with operators offering mobile virtual games, numbers games, and simulated leagues during the lockdown and post-lockdown in Africa. The return of live sports sums up the surge for online, which continues to be the case.

According to research conducted by E-play Africa media, top gaming operators in Africa had backed; this claims that there have been quite significant volumes of players stuck to mobile online gambling and betting. During lockdown and post-lockdown in Africa, some players, after a feel of online, stick with online betting, as oppose before the outbreak. However, still, some agreed that retail volumes are still far away ahead of their online traffic. But some believe that it is just a matter of time that the gap will shrink further than before they can boast of 80% per cent sales in retail but that figure as shrink to about 60 per cent sales according to one of the top operators who wish to speak in anonymity.

Consequently, players’ attitude is changing, and the Covid-19 plays a pivotal role in this volume of punters preferring online betting and gambling, unlike previous years. Another attribute that has been touted is the financial sector, particularly mobile money in East Africa, as aided online gambling and betting. While some of these mobile money operators, for example, in Kenya, Rwanda, Ghana, are encouraging consumers with incentives and no fees charged on every transaction using their services for payment. At the same time, authorities are discouraging the use of fiat currency as a means of payment to prevent Covid-19 spread. For instance, in Nigeria, the recent data released by Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) shows that Mobile and USSD transactions in Nigeria surged by 82.6% to stand at 1.69 billion instead of 928.86 million recorded in the previous year.

The report also revealed that 78% of total instant payment carried out in Nigeria in 2020 was done using mobile devices. The breakdown of the data released mobile payment retained its position as the most preferred channel accounting for 43% of the total transactions in 2020.

USSD followed closely at 762.19 million transactions accounting for 35% of the total recorded in the year. The report backed the surge to the influx of bookmakers using this service and has significantly contributed to the growth in Nigeria.

The Covid19 outbreak has brought a dramatic change to the Africa market landscape, and as we know, there is an intense desire for rebirth and renewal after any crisis. It is interesting to known, after a war, there is a post-war boom after the .com bubble busted; we have the internet era. The post-Covid-19 lockdown, we have experienced mobile online gambling and betting surge in Africa. So the question now is, can operators sustain this shift in consumer behaviour to online? How do they lure the percentage of consumer that went back to the retail form of betting?

Operators should approach this carefully; offering that incredible experience of what players want is crucial. Using existing data to provide customers with that great experience and making sure bettors don’t have to return to retail is paramount during this essential time.

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