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The Spread of Sports Betting in Africa

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The Spread of Sports Betting in Africa

The love for sports in Africa especially football, is visible in almost any part of the continent you find yourself. From the often controversial AFCON which African countries strive to be a part of to the really large followership of the English Premier League, La Liga, and other leagues, sport has become an outlet for the people of Africa. Football is not the only popular sports on the continent as others like Basketball, rugby, cricket and tennis are also quite common.

However, poverty, infrastructural deficits, insufficient economic support and even leadership troubles have continued to pose a challenge on the continent’s ability to nurture talents and also improve its sports structure to one that is competitive and attractive.

Presently, sports in Africa is no longer just a pastime but has become a source of income, a means to an end for a lot of Africans both old and young (especially). Being a source of income should not be a problem but the manner in which the income is made is becoming a problem and leading to a rise in gambling addicts.

Betting or gambling has become a trend and the love for sports in Africa has made it quite easy to appeal to an audience whose confidence in their understanding of the industry is quite high. Their confidence is so that they doubt the possibility of losing placed bets.

In 2014, it was reported that Nigerians spent an average of N1.8b daily on betting. The report by Price Water Coopers which covers data from 2010 – 2019 showed that there had been massive outbreaks of online betting companies in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. The report also shows that the sports betting industry will continue to witness growth at 6.9% yearly with an estimated worth of $38 billion by 2018.

The growth of sports betting in Africa can be attributed to increased internet penetration in the continent over the years and also adoption of mobile friendly platforms by betting companies which has allowed them to access a wider market. One condition which also has made Africa a hotbed for sports betting companies is the existent lax laws regulating the industry.

Policies which govern gambling in many African countries are often favorable to various companies which find it worthwhile to still go ahead with their venture. Combined with a minimum bet of N150 (45 cents) in Nigeria, almost anyone can partake and stand a chance to win big.

An approach which has quickened the spread of sports betting on the continent is the adoption of not just a mobile friendly approach to betting but also the opening of various brick and mortar stores. Despite the rise in internet penetration and number of internet subscribers over the years, Africa still has a large number of people disconnected. In order to access these persons and provide the sports betting service to these often technologically-handicapped persons, sports betting companies have adopted an offline approach which lets everyone access the service and also serve as a business opportunity for people.

The various offline stores are run by persons who get commissions on every bet placed in their stores. This encourages persons to go ahead to set up these stores and also encourage people to bet. This format adopted further opens the sports betting industry to persons who would have probably found it an impossible or a herculean task to navigate the web on their own.

However, African countries with a high Muslim population frown upon gambling as this goes against their religious beliefs. An instance is the Republic of Gambia which banned all sort of gambling. In countries like Nigeria where there is a high mix of both Christian and Muslims, gambling and betting activities are predominant in the Southern region (predominantly Christian population) when compared to the Northern areas. This, nonetheless has not stopped the aggressive expansion of betting companies throughout the country however with focus in areas where such is easily acceptable/not frowned upon.

The love for sports in Africa is unquestionable. Coupled with high unemployment rate and a recession (in Nigeria), this love continues to fuel an addiction that grows the sports betting industry. With Bet9ja ranking 4th in Nigeria and 343 globally, it seems like the growth is one that may not be yielding anytime soon as the benefits for some do outweigh the losses.

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A sports and nature lover, art enthusiast and rookie globe trotter. I'm also in love with Africa, tech and politics.

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