Fans of sports betting in Malawi will soon have more options to choose from when betting on football and other events online. Eight operators have received licenses from the Malawi Gaming Board (MGB) and the National Lotteries Board (NLB) recently.

Industry stakeholders hope that the new license approvals are a positive move and a sign of good things to come for the online sports betting and gaming industry in Malawi. Until now, the market’s growth has been slow as few Malawians have affordable internet access.

Approved After Strict Evaluation

MGB chief executive officer Foster Mlumbe said 17 operators applied for licenses. After a strict evaluation process, only 8 applicants received licenses. These 8 can now offer online sports betting services in the Malawi.

Mlumbe explained that liquidity is essential in the online betting and iGaming industries. It is important for winners to receive payment promptly. Evaluation ensures that applicants have the finances to cover operating costs. They must be able to pay out winnings too.

Leading Brands Among Applicants

The successful operators who applied for online sports betting licenses include leading brands. One of those brands was Betika, one of Kenya’s leading operators. Betika already has a presence in 8 African countries. Malawi will be the ninth country to increase the brand’s footprint.

Hollywoodbets was another successful applicant. The brand is a leader in the South African market. It already has a presence in 3 other African countries including Mozambique. Betani, Headsquare, Kuwina, and Mobipay were among the other operators to receive licenses. Before the new licenses were granted, bettors could bet on sports with Premier Bet, Premier Lotto, and World Star Betting.

The new online betting services are expected to be well received by bettors in Malawi. Even though market growth has been slow in the country, betting on sports online is becoming more popular. In May 2021, a bettor won K77 million by betting on football games. In 2019, a Blantyre man won K109 million.

In 2020, the Malawi government introduced a 20% Withholding Tax on betting winnings. The Taxation (Amendment) Act was gazetted in November, making the new tax effective.

The growing interest in online sports betting is not limited to Malawi. Several African countries have seen a sudden increase in the market’s growth. This growth has been a long time in coming, as the market potential remains largely untapped. This is set to change due to the increasing number of people using mobile phones and payment options.

Malawi’s government is supporting better access to the internet. They’re doing this through a digital infrastructural development program and private partnership. This is expected to lead to better internet quality that is more affordable. 

The government’s target is to see 80% internet connectivity by 2025. Currently, connectivity is approximately 14%. The government’s Malawi Digital Economic Strategy hopes smartphone ownership will rise to 51% by 2026. The strategy was prepared by the National Planning Commission.

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