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The online industry in Africa is booming as land-based casinos faced shut down due to COVID-19, causing people to look elsewhere for gambling, says Sigma Software. In their media statement, the company notes that the boom is driven by COVID-19, which it says, has pushed digitalisation for the African iGaming industry.

They cite Kenya and Mozambique as examples of the problems brick and mortar-based gambling has to deal with: “Recently, Kenya has experiences mass unemployment due to forced lockdown, with casino employees fighting for the reopening of businesses. Mozambique on the other hand has just reopened its casinos in bid to boost the socio-economy.”

Additionally, the National Lottery Commission (NLC) in Nigeria noted a decline in revenue amid the pandemic attributed to a halt in European sports: “The coronavirus has affected the sports betting business because people are no longer betting, they only play computer games which, as a result has affected what betting companies remit to the commission,” a source explained to Sigma.

In effect, most gamblers are playing from their home using online platforms. However, there are risks associated in terms of regulation and licenses.

Regulation and licenses

Sigma notes that in South Africa, which only allows online sports betting, BetCentric has issued a warning to customers “avoid the temptation to access unlicensed gambling operators, which may still be operational despite the preventive measures in place, whether physically or on online platforms.”

“Online casinos are thus facing big challenges, particularly regarding licensing and regulation. Nonetheless, recent news have shown a push for regulating online gambling as happens in Ghana,” they say.

The statement adds that as the land-based casinos aren’t able to welcome customers, they have to find a way to provide a real-life experience to attract more customers. They highlight H2 Gambling Capital's report, which states its expectation for online gambling’s share in 2020 with global gross win to exceed 18% in the future.

Sigma adds that Africa looks like the new iGaming destination, as many providers are looking to tap into this fruitful market. The most attractive markets in this continent are in East Africa, with Kenya in particular being the target country.

Will Africa be the new Gaming Hub?

The big question though is if Africa will be the new gaming hub. Some, like Sigma, believe it could be. They note that Africa is the second most populated continent in the world, with a population of 1.26 Billion people, and 35 countries out of 54 already allow sport betting, and most of them are on the way to legalise other forms of iGaming.

Moreover, mobile payments are common in this continent, which naturally aids the online business. In addition, the population demographic is young, and the millennials tend to gamble a lot, Sigma says.

Sigma cites a study that showed that around 79% of all sports bets are on football matches, and Kenyans are betting at least once a week with an average of $50 spent per month. Moreover, the number of mobile users has significantly increased in Kenya and the whole continent, alongside a decrease in the costs of mobile data, which makes it more accessible to all.

“All those statistics bring to light the attractiveness of the continent for iGaming operators, with emphasis on East Africa and especially Kenya, and trying to breach its markets,” Sigma concludes.

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