The African Gaming Market beyond Covid-19

Compared to other continents like Asia, North America and Europe, Africa has not experienced so much health devastation from Covid-19. However, the effects of the virus in the gambling industry are equally felt across the world. Africa stands a great chance to expand its market and diversify further into other forms of gambling.

Covid-19 was such a shock to many economists, and none of them anticipated the economic disruption that this pandemic would cause. Remember that the world has witnessed many other epidemics, including meningitis, chicken flu, Ebola and Sars, which are outbreaks that threatened to extinguish humanity. Owing to the vulnerable state of Africa in terms of healthcare and general economic status, the western world predicted catastrophic impacts for the African population, which never occurred.

How Has Africa Faired in the Face of Covid-19?

After the 1918 Spanish Flu, the world was awakened to invest in science, which has been a resource to combat many other outbreaks. Surprisingly, the coronavirus effect has left the global economy crumbling each day, with almost all human activities coming to a standstill.
Africa has shocked other rich continents, given the least health impacts the virus has had on its people. For instance, Sub-Saharan Africa looks more prepared to deal with Covid-19, more than the US and Europe. This readiness is attributed to the history of the experiences with other much similar pandemics that the continent has dealt with. Some quarters have linked the minimal susceptibility to the tropical climate.

Whatever the reasons could be, most African governments have effectively responded by imposing curfews and lockdowns to protect their citizens. Despite the economic implications, the shutdown is poised to restore normalcy by helping to combat the virus.

Effects of the Shutdown on the African Gambling Industry

Due to the cancellation and indefinite suspension of sporting events, gambling became one of the first industries to feel the immediate impacts of Covid-19 outbreak. The African market is not spared either since there are no live games for bettors to place their wagers. Even the much anticipated Olympics tournament has been postponed, yet it was touted as one of the events with numerous odds. A significant amount of gambling revenue in Africa comes from sports betting. The cancellation of most sports tournaments has devastating implications. The industry has recorded almost 99% in losses. Some countries have nil returns in this regard.

Some markets are fond of virtual games, but in this situation, they cannot fit as substitutes for live gaming because they only supplement. This is not to say they are immune to the effects of the virus either, because most casinos have suspended businesses as well. Do not forget that even in normal times, virtual games hardly raise 30% of gamers.

Most countries in Africa are under lockdown, yet the spread of the virus continues to rise. There is a possibility that governments will extend the period, maybe for another month. As a result, people are forced into survival mode, since they cannot get out to fend for their families. Some individuals have lost their jobs, while some are out on unpaid leaves. Many companies cannot sustain employee wage payments even for a month if they have no sources of income.

The Gambling Industry in Africa beyond Covid-19

Given that the industry is literally on its knees, one wonders how the dynamics of resumption will play out post the coronavirus era. There is a likelihood of recurrence of many other waves that will shake the economy further before a vaccine is finally discovered.

African countries are going to review their online gambling legislation to safeguard the industry and protect it from the leakages that have compromised operations before. For instance, South Africa will probably legitimize its online gambling business whose consequence will be the loss of revenue concerning land-based casinos. Mauritius and Lesotho are likely to tap into this new development and compete for casino business in the southern part of Africa.

There will be two forms of behavioural shift as a result of the current situation. To begin with, many companies will lose their customers because they will have stayed away from gambling, and some will probably find other activities and jobs to sustain them. Therefore they will opt to stop gambling permanently. On the other hand, the pandemic will generate a lot of economic refugees who will come out without jobs. So they will be rushing to join betting platforms to find a source of income.

The post coronavirus era will awaken many operators to diversify their businesses. Currently, those who stuck with sports betting have no income. We are likely to see several bookmakers incorporate games like bingo, poker and slots in their offerings.

On the general scale, the African gambling market is going to shoot even further because the Covid-19 pandemic has taught operators to have contingency plans. This means that companies are going to invest more in both land-based and online casinos. The future is not so certain, meaning there could be a pandemic that could hit one section of the industry more than the other. If it so happens, operators will have at least an income source to sustain the human resource.

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