Africa is the second largest continent in the world, home to 54 countries and 1.3 billion people. As a continent of developing countries, Africa has always been technologically limited and disconnected from the rest of the online world. However, in recent years this has begun to change. This is opening the door to an explosion in the iGaming and online casino industries.

Many of the world’s principal online casino operators are turning to Africa. This is because it is such a lucrative region to expand into. The idea of it as a collection of third-world nations is no longer true. And the concept that it’s mainly focused on the agricultural sector and extraction of resources is mistaken. Big players in the iGaming industry have unearthed huge economic potential. Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda are all on the radar. This is thanks to the passion for online sports betting the citizens of these countries exhibit.

It looks like the African gaming sector will register a 12% CAGR between 2020 and 2025. Multi-functional gaming consoles are emerging into the market. This impacts on the rate of the video game markets growth and has an effect on the real money gaming sector.

Africa is the only global region experiencing an increase in its youth population. Estimates put the rise of people aged 24-years or younger near 50% by 2050. This statistic plays a vital role in the future of this continent as concerns real money gaming in its entirety.

Recent world events have seen the African iGaming industry reach new heights. Sports getting suspended or cancelled across the globe has left bettors high and dry. This is behind the surge in real money casino game entertainment. Something that could not even have imagined just a few short years ago.

There has been a huge increase in African online gambling entertainment site activity. This is despite financial stresses amplifying for everyone. The chance to relax and to win big are huge motivators. This has seen many more people trying casino games than ever before.

An Outline of Africa’s Online Gambling Sector

50+ nations and over 1 billion people makes Africa the second-largest continent. It spans 30 million square kilometres. It features six time zones. And there are eight different climates across the many divergent countries.

A snap judgement applying to all the many countries has been operational for too long. In spite of evidence to the contrary, people view Africa as almost medieval technologically! But the tide always turns. And this part of the world’s massive potential is becoming clear. Many online casino investors and vendors are waking up to the new normal.

A Mobile Revolution

The change can be partly attributed to the rapid expansion of mobile internet connectivity. Today, more than three quarters of the population has a SIM connection, and two thirds have access to mobile broadband. New mobile internet infrastructure and cheaper smartphones means that an ever-increasing number of Africans can access online sports betting and casinos.

The rapid expansion of internet connectivity is one of the most significant elements in the African iGaming scene. 2018 saw six brand-new 4G networks launching, so there are now more than 120 operators. Today, Africans make up 11.5% of the world’s internet users. This fact means online casino games and internet sports betting is more possible. It’s not limited to an elite few anymore. Anyone with an interest in it can take part.

Mobile gaming handles almost half of the iGaming industry’s annual revenue. Over 200 million Africans are under the age of 35-years. And this figure will likely double over the next 10 years. This means that the already enormous market for gaming and smartphones will enjoy an exponential expansion as well.

Mobile gaming is even enjoying more popularity in remote parts of the continent. There are more than 290 million North Africans who rely on mobile devices. The market in this region produces revenue of US$90 billion annually. It is made up of Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, and Western Sahara.

What is driving growth in this industry? Well, it has vast potential. A few savvy investors making the right decision now could mean millions in a few short years. The likelihood of a hefty real money gaming industry continent-wide is not small. More sophisticated mobile technology is spreading each year. This is turning problem areas into hotspots. They are ready for legalised real money games and sports betting opportunities.

Acceleration of the rollout of Sub-Saharan Africa’s mobile operators has had a big influence. 3G coverage increased from 63% in 2017 to 70% in just 12 months. This granted over 80 million new people access. One issue in this region, however, is that, although 3+ billion people reside in locations with full mobile broadband network reach, they do not all avail themselves of it.

Especially popular among young Africans is sports betting, particularly on European football leagues. In 2018, the African sports betting industry was estimated to be worth no less than $37 billion. Cultures are becoming more homogenous. This is a simple fact of nations developing. They start to take on Western ideals. A perfect example of this kind of process is the worldwide adoration of films from Hollywood. Or the global appropriation of specific fast-food franchises, or the near-universal support for Western fashion and music.

But there are still some challenges to be overcome before the online gambling industry can really take off in Africa. In many countries, gambling laws are either outdated, vague, or unenforced. Unlike in many parts of the world, there are very few regions of Africa that are culturally against gambling. This is good news for online casino operators and investors looking to expand into the region.

The biggest markets for gambling in Africa are Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa. Let’s take a closer look at these three markets.

Kenya

The Kenyan nation is in the East Africa’s Great Lakes region. English and Swahili are its official languages.With a population of about 47 million, most types of gambling are legal. But the online casino and iGaming world is still in its teething period. This is due to the country’s slow adoption of mobile internet connectivity. However, the industry is beginning to gain momentum, with an average growth revenue of approximately 6.8%. Like in many other African countries, sports betting is particularly popular.

PricewaterhouseCooper revealed several interesting facts in 2018. PwC found that gambling activity in Kenya accounted for nearly 7% of the nation’s GDP. The sum was close to US$25 million.

Along with many of its many fellow Africans, Kenyans love Football betting. The European Leagues see the majority of the country’s wagering.  Up to 80% of Kenyans take part in these events. And industry executives reported that almost 7 million Kenyans use online betting services.

Principal notes on Kenyan taxation include those outlined by a new draft bill which details the following conditions regarding levies for online casinos:

  • Lottery operators are asked for a 5% tax on their turnover
  • Betting offices must pay over 7.5% of their net profit
  • Online casino operators are subject to a 12% levy on all revenue less wins
  • Lottery providers are charged 15% of their gross turnover

Other essential taxation information includes:

  • Winnings are taxed at 20%
  • Corporate income is subject to a levy of 29%

Nigeria

Nigeria has the highest GDP in Africa. It’s also the most populous country on the continent, with over 200 million people. A ban on gambling in the country lifted in 2004. The first legal online casino was launched in 2013, and the industry has exploded since then. A 2014 survey found that about 30% of Nigeria’s population place bets daily, totalling approximately $5.5 million.

A 2014 estimate said almost 30% of Nigerians place sports wagers daily, equal to approximately 60 million people. The bulk of these bettors fall into the age group of between 18- and 40-years old. The amount wagered on a daily basis is about US$5.5 million, which brings the annual total up to around US$2 billion.

This is a potent participation and turnover rate. And it’s something iGaming and online betting corporations have not let slip by unnoticed. Nigeria is ideal for online operators.

It was as recently as 2013 that the first-ever legal Nigerian online casino opened its virtual doors. A hop, skip, and a jump from 2020 in the iGaming Grand Scheme of Things! This market’s rapid development can partly be attributed to enormous growth in payment systems developed by local businesses. 

The fintech start-up that is Paystack is a perfect example. It currently processes over US$11 million monthly. It’s a very new company, established in 2015. And it has gone on to become the most-used system for online bettors. This is particularly true for those wagering at NairaBet, the second-largest online bookmaker in Nigeria.

KPMG, the intercontinental accounting firm, says that Bet9ja is Nigeria’s premier bookmaker. The firm reports US$10 million on an average month. This can be compared to NairaBet’s total of anything between US$3 million and US$4 million. This sportsbook has roughly 2 million regulars. Other providers include 888sport, Betway, Betfair, Golden Race, Merrybet, and Surebet 247.

Nigeria follows the African trend when it comes to the most popular sports for wagering on. The main focus is without a doubt Football. Spain’s La Liga and the United Kingdom’s Premier League take up the two top spots.

South Africa

With the second largest GDP on the continent, South Africa is the largest gaming market in Africa. Sports betting has seen the most exponential growth in recent years. It accounted for 21.3% of gambling revenue in 2018, at $405 million. In fact, estimations show that about half of all South Africans place sports bets on a regular basis.

The laws around online gambling in South Africa are outdated and confusing. Only sports betting and horse racing are considered legal. But discussions on legalization and improvement of online casinos in the country are afoot. So, watch this space.

In spite of the murkiness of current gambling legislation, South Africans enjoy gambling. Estimates say that almost 50% of the country does so regularly. The average is about once a month.

Recent surveys show that almost three quarters of the population have gambled at least once in their lives. Respondents describe real money gambling as absorbing. The most popular events include Cricket, Football, Golf, and Rugby. South Africans’ favourite outlets are Betvictor, Betway, Golden Race, Scorebet SA, and Sportingbet.

Typically, tax liabilities in South Africa include:

  • Value-added tax of between 5 and 10%
  • Tax on winnings of 15%
  • A standard tax rate for corporate income of 29%

Ghana

Over 30 million people call Ghana home, many of these located in Accra, the country’s capital and largest city. The official language is English, and the cedi is its currency. It borders 3 countries, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, and Togo. And prospective investors will be delighted to hear that all types of gambling, both land-based and online, is totally legal in this part of the world.

Once again, Football betting is by far the most common pastime.  Ghanaians show great fervour when it comes to these games! The widespread availability of land-based and web-based bookmakers makes it easy to wager.  Telephone betting is a particular favourite. Online casino games are also well-liked, with Bingo and Poker being the most played.

The Gaming Commission of Ghana is in charge of officially licensing the various bodies. Three important notes on this country’s taxation include:

  • Gambling activity is levied by 18%
  • There is a 17.5% VAT attached to winnings
  • All revenue is subject to a corporate income tax of 29%

Tanzania

Tanzania has a population of almost 60 million. And it is another African country that has experienced a sharp uptick in online casino activity. This is alongside the internet-based sports betting surge. This is due to rapid improvements in access and availability.  Companies catering for both English and Swahili play a big role in this uptick.

A boom in sportsbook availability also fostered growth in this area. Bookmakers abound but Dar Es Salaam has the majority. M-bet, Meridianbet, Mkeka bet, Princess Bet, and Sportpesa are the most popular brands.

Revenue from sports betting activity is taxed at a rate of 25%. This provided the Tanzanian government with more than US$5 million in 2016. This was the same year that income from sports betting surpassed that of casinos. It generated over US$15 million. In the financial year 2017/2018, iGaming and internet-based betting saw the Tanzanian government collecting almost US$40 million in tax.

Uganda

Uganda also lists English and Swahili as its two national languages. And online gambling vendors can relax, because this country views gambling positively. It’s seen as a commercially viable, wholly legal activity. Casinos, lotteries, and sportsbooks are the most popular. Uganda has almost 700 sites devoted to it.

Reports reveal that the regulation of iGaming and online betting in Uganda saw the state budget swelling by over US$3 million. This was in the 2013 to 2014 period. Statistical data says that, over the course of 2016, this total then rose past the US$5 million point. This kind of information makes things clear. It becomes obvious that the region’s gambling revenue is experiencing an incredible upturn.

Ugandans spend an average of just over US$40 million on gambling-related activity yearly. Operators pay 20% tax on all revenue and withhold 15% of players’ winnings. In keeping with trends across the continent, sports betting is by and large the most favoured activity. Football takes the usual leading role. But Basketball, Cricket, Rugby, Tennis, and Volleyball are also popular. Many markets for these are available at all the best bookmakers.

Favourites include Betin, Elite Bet, SBA Uganda, Simba Bet, and Worldstar Betting. More and more Ugandans are starting to wager at online sportsbooks of late. This is due to the increase in mobile connectivity. And better support for safe payment methods has become a reality. This is a result of companies expanding nationwide.

The Lotteries and Gaming Regulatory Board recently reported that the Ugandan government saw US$12 million in revenue. This is from taxation on sports betting activity in the period extending from 2017 to 2018. Compare this to the paltry US$3 million reported from 2013 to 2014. And the mere US$66 000 from 2003 to 2004. The rate of growth is astounding!

A new gambling law recently introduced in Uganda states that operators now have to get three licenses:

  • A promoter permit
  • A warrant rendering them an official Ugandan distributor
  • A license from the industry itself

Purchasing these license cost vendors between US$300 and US$1 500. And they need to additionally factor in payment to the National Lottery Directorate. This amount is roughly US$60 000 and is treated as a deposit for payoffs and taxation in the future. Apart from levies, the tax rate on corporate income is 29%.

Predictions for African iGaming and Online Betting

This article clarifies how big the potential for online casino and internet-based bookmakers is in Africa. If things keep going in the direction they have been, the following factors are a matter of fact:

  • Disposable income will increase, and a larger middle class will begin to emerge.
  • Increased connectivity will combine with ever-cheaper desktops, smartphones, and tablets. This means more and more Africans will be able to get online.
  • Countries are embracing many more Western values than ever before. This will come to include gambling online.
  • Legislation, licensing, regulation, and taxation will increase across the board.

Keeping these factors in mind, add in general tolerance for gambling and betting in all its forms. Then throw in the incredible diversity of this market. It’s fair to say that things are looking good. Africa could become a key player in the iGaming sector, and soon.

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