Q&A With Cola.bet

We been hearing a lot about the Cola Group and their expansion into the African market. We decide to have a Skype catchup with Dana Varnytska, CMO at Cola.bet, to learn more about their plans and visions.

Tell us about Cola.bet as a business?

Cola Group is a world-class games and entertainment company. The focus of the business is to provide accessible, instant, and seamless access to gambling and entertainment products to both gamblers and operators.

Cola.bet currently holds iGaming licenses in Curacao, Zambia, Ethiopia, Kenya, and most recently, Nigeria. Localization is the driving force for business expansion and having an on-the-ground presence is vital. With that in mind, the company has offices in Castletown, Dubai, Kyiv, Nairobi, Lagos, Addis Ababa, and Lusaka. There are currently 80 employees on the team, which is expected to grow to 750 by the close of 2022.

The proprietary software platform has been developed in-house by an experienced tech team, enabling it to be highly customizable for each market. In time there are plans to provide the platform as a white label solution to other operators.

What is Cola.bet’s plan for Africa?

Initial plans are to consolidate the company’s position in countries where the sports betting operation is running. Cola.bet operates in Kenya, Zambia, Ethiopia, and now Nigeria after the Lagos State Lotteries Board granted the certification for a locally incorporated, Cola.bet subsidiary company, Cola Games Limited.

The next stage will see the business finalize seven more licenses for Africa, with further countries in the latter legal and market research evaluation stages. Long-term ambitions are to be licensed in more than 10 markets across Africa by mid-2022.

Licenses for Africa’s regulated markets provide the pathway for growth and then allow localized marketing strategies to bear fruit. The goal is for Cola.bet to be a brand known to respect sports fans and ensure they enjoy an authentic betting experience tailored for them. Several promotional campaigns will run to communicate this brand position that will build trust with the product.

In time, B2B partners will benefit from a multi-currency, multi-lingual, cross-domain platform, which will be supported with an affiliate program, SMS services, and various payment solutions depending on the market needs.

A consulting service is available to provide partners with an end-to-end iGaming service. Experiences gained while working through the complicated license procedures and building the Cola.bet platform has curated an unrivaled understanding of Africa. The consulting service enables partners to gain insight into Africa’s best practices and the strongest strategy to launch.

Why did you initially focus on Kenya, Zambia, Ethiopia and now Nigeria?

Africa is a rapidly expanding and exciting sports betting market with a huge appetite for sports, and football is top of the table. Improvements are constantly being made throughout Africa in areas of internet speed. The foundation is there for the rollout of Cola.bet’s contemporary, mobile-first and intuitive technology platform that delivers outstanding player experiences.

The reason for beginning with the aforementioned markets is that they had firm roots within sports betting, and Cola.bet’s research had identified them as fertile ground for growth. Other factors played a role in that the barriers to entry were agreeable. The past experience meant Cola.bet could quickly negotiate the sometimes tricky license processes to allow a shorter time to market.

Nigeria, the second largest African sports betting market, has similar characteristics to Ethiopia in that both are retail-focused rather than digital. This calculated move for Cola.bet means the operation can leverage the marketing template that returned such positive results from Ethiopia.

Where do you see the African market in 10 years?

Considering the evolution of the gambling market in Africa in the past five years and the expected online CAGR in Africa of 15.6% for the next five, we see the African market as a very lucrative region in the long term. Ongoing internet penetration will be the catalyst for rapid development of the African market.

We expect the markets identified to follow in the footsteps of South Africa, which at the moment is the largest gambling market on the continent.

What are the biggest opportunities and obstacles for the region?

Opportunities far outweigh the obstacles within Africa’s sports betting landscape. There has been high industry growth for the past decade and the potential market reach is vast given the continent’s population of roughly 1.4bn. More and more countries are regulating to create favourable business environments.

One factor that is holding growth back is internet penetration and slow speed internet, but these issues will soon be a thing of the past. Regulatory restrictions around marketing practices in certain African countries also means some of our strategies to source traffic will have to be slightly adapted initially.

Cola.bet’s Kenyan team

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