Opinion

What’s the Deal with Gambling in Africa

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The African continent boasts a booming gambling industry that’s currently worth around  R26 billion just in South Africa alone and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya are some of the fastest growing markets while Tanzania and Uganda are also big players in the East.

While casino gambling comprises a huge sector of the industry, other activities such as the national lottery and sports betting are also making waves in recent years. In fact, around 80% of South African citizens buy lottery tickets on a weekly basis while sports like horse racing, rugby and football attract thousands of punters every year.

 

Is Gambling Legal Across Africa?

However, it must be said that Africa has always had a somewhat complicated relationship with gambling. While it’s been around for years, the laws and regulations surrounding it have been quite ambiguous.

Moreover, the amount of citizens losing money to gambling is also worrying which is why authorities have been trying to come up with new measures to regulate and control the industry.

In South Africa, for example, the government recently proposed its latest Gambling Amendment Bill, in an effort to crack down on unlicensed operators and illegal gambling activity. Some of the key points listed in the draft proposal includes the appointment of the National Gambling Board as the nation’s principal gambling watchdog, the illegal status of dog racing, new advertising restrictions for operators as well as harsher penalties for individuals, operators and payment providers who endorse illicit gambling activity in any way. Despite its best intentions however, the bill has already been met by widespread controversy with some experts labelling its policies “nonsensical”

While land-based casinos and sports operators which are in possession of adequate licensing from the country’s regulatory bodies are allowed to service African citizens, the situation is slightly more confusing when it comes to online gambling though. While online sports betting is currently legal across most Africa, citizens are only allowed to gamble at a handful of online casinos, which again must be licensed by a national regulator.

Meanwhile, online gambling in Nigeria has been restricted to a few select operator while Kenya is struggling to control the gambling addiction that’s bringing financial ruin onto millions of young males in a growing

The Future of Gambling in Africa

The reasons behind the growing interest in gambling on the continent comes down to vulnerable, unemployed groups of people who are taken in by the advertisers’ promises of winning big and becoming rich overnight. However, in the case of sports betting, it’s more because African athletes are breaking into the international scene, especially football such as the English Premier Football League,, leaving citizens eager to support them and put their money where their mouth is.

The emergence of mobile technology is also driving the industry forward and events like the very first ICE Africa exhibition and conference  that will take place later this month are proof of just how far the continent has come with regards to gambling, as more opportunities arise for local and foreign operators to break into the industry.

Famutimi Femi is a writer for theheraldng. He is also a lawyer by trade. His hobbies include reading and writing, he also loves Renaissance art.

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