Malta-based online gambling operator Interwetten has announced its debut in the African market. The company, which was started in Vienna and was the second-ever internet-based bookmaker, has been licensed to offer sports betting across Nigeria.

Sports Betting Africa

The licence from Nigeria’s National Lottery Regulatory Commission, or NLRC, allows Interwetten to make sports betting and associated betting product available to Nigerians. Operating via its new URL, the site will accept wagers on different eSports, conventional sports and virtual sports. The user interface will also be streamlined and adapted to the Nigerian market, helping to ensure seamless experiences for clients.

An estimated 84% of the online sports betting traffic in Nigeria comes from mobile devices, and Interwetten has made sure that its local site is equally accessible on desktops, tablets and smartphones. This should ensure maximum penetration into the African country’s emerging gambling market, which is currently worth around $2 billion.

An Aggressive Marketing Campaign

To ensure successful entry into its new market, Interwetten is doing more than just making sure its site is fully available on all platforms. The company also intends to mount nationwide marketing campaigns to put its brand into the Nigerian sports betting spotlight. Plans include getting involved with local social development projects, and using a former national Nigerian Football player in advertisements.

New Challenges and Opportunities

Commenting on the Nigerian launch, focusing on becoming one of the best betting sites in Nigeria, Interwetten’s Speaker of the Board and Chief Executive Officer Dominik Beier said the nation’s enthusiasm for sports and betting is enormous. He acknowledged that the market holds some challenges for the operator, but added that it also offered them a variety of exciting prospects.

With decades of experience, having been established in 1990, Interwetten appears confident that they can handle any difficulties and maximise all opportunities. The company is able to deliver a product with high European standards of safety and fairness, Beier continued, and he is confident it will be received well.

Beier concluded that the expansion into Africa was another important milestone for Interwetten, and that the move proved once again that his employer was an industry leader. The trailblazing bookmaker announced its highest-ever financial results in January 2020, reporting a 25% year-on-year revenue increase in 2019. The dollar value of the year-on-year revenue was €99.5 million, or $111.8 million. In addition, betting stakes climbed by 30%, passing the €2 billion mark for the first time.

COVID-19 Poses Unexpected Obstacle

Africa is considered one of the biggest emerging gambling markets in the world, and expansion into this sector is a top priority for many operators. However, as Interwetten planned its Nigerian launch its unlikely the betting giant thought it would have to face the effects of COVID-19.

The novel coronavirus has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation, and has led to shutdowns across several industries. As individuals are encouraged to self-isolate and practice social distancing, land-based retailers are keeping their doors closed and many music tours and other major events have been cancelled or postponed.

These suspensions include all major sports leagues and matches. The National Football League of North America also prohibited pre-draft visits due to travel concerns, and the Boston Marathon and Masters Golf tournament are both to be rescheduled. Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League and Major League Soccer have also suspended play.

Asia has been virtually devoid of sporting events for weeks, and Europe is following suit. England’s Premier League postponed games in the top four divisions until the 3rd of April, and Arsenal, Everton and Chelsea have quarantined some of their players. These decisions were taken after Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive for the virus.

With the future of so many events hanging in the balance, might not be able to offer all the coverage and markets that it originally planned to. Virtual sports markets should help to soften the blow, but only to a degree.

Companies will have to come up with creative solutions to stay afloat or, in the case of Interwetten Nigeria, to launch successfully. Their experience and financial clout suggest that if anyone can do it, they can, but insiders still expect it to be a challenge and are watching with interest to see how Interwetten handles this unexpected obstacle.

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