When it comes to gambling, we tend to think of the glitz of Las Vegas, or the British sports fan heading to his local bookie to place a bet on the football. But that stereotypical image, while based on truth, excludes a huge part of another gambling-crazy part of the world: Africa.
Arguably, African fans are even more serious gamblers, bar none. It’s a generalization, but it’s a daily topic of discussion, an activity that is synonymous with sporting events, and almost everyone has gambled at a casino or bookie, whether land-based or online.
What really made a difference in recent years are the various improvements in Africa’s online betting sphere. Combining general socio-economic trends with industry-specific developments, the continent is now a serious player in the online betting sphere.
Live Sports Betting
Gambling before games has been the traditional way of placing bets on sports in most countries. In Africa, however, betting during an event has been popular for many years. Online companies, however, were not very well equipped to deal with the many punters looking to bet in-game.
Now, it’s possible to do so via a large proportion of online operators. Live betting on popular sports is now available to most gamblers on the continent, whether you’re based in South Africa, Nigeria, or Morocco. With sports like UFC, cricket, basketball, rugby, and football massively popular in many African countries, the ability to bet in-game has changed the landscape completely.
With betting types constantly evolving, and technology making it far easier to make speedy in-game bets, expect this market to continue its current growth spurt.
High Speed Data (+ Optimized Games)
The problem with online gambling for many players is that the average cell phone connection speed is just far too slow, often completely unavailable for smartphone users in Africa. Considering most African people use phones instead of laptops/desktops, this was a real problem.
In 2023, however, high-speed data access is now widely available. This is particularly game-changing for in-game bets, as players can rest assured they can get the latest odds and place bets quickly and efficiently.
In terms of how the gambling industry has helped this along, there has been some real emphasis on improving the loading times. Now that gambling companies know that many users access their wares via 4/5G, games have been streamlined to load more quickly.
Just a few short years ago, not many people in Africa owned a smartphone. In 2022, the continent saw a record-breaking number of smartphone subscriptions. Translation: a huge chunk of the population owns one.
Betting companies were originally a bit slow to realize this potential, but are now fully on board. Both sportsbooks and casinos have ensured that the mobile experience is just as good, if not better, than on a larger laptop screen.
Now, interfaces are optimized for smartphones first, ‘relics’ second. This means that users can place in-game bets with ease, with the interface completely optimized for mobile use.
You’d be surprised just how much of a difference this makes. But it’s not an exaggeration to say that there are still many gambling websites today that are just completely unusable because they haven’t been designed responsively. And they’re losing a lot of customers as a result.
Countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, and the USA have long had strong regulations in place when it comes to the gambling industry. In the UK, for example, the Gambling Commission ensures the safety of players, making sure their funds stay safe with legit operators.
In Africa, governments have started to develop more far-reaching regulations that cover the sports betting market. This step has helped drive players to online companies, as they can now rest assured that if they go for a government-approved provider, they won’t get scammed.
This peace of mind has driven the industry to new heights, and with African governments still improving on this front, we can only assume that it will lead to further growth once fully developed.
Bright Outlook for 2024 and Beyond
The improvements made in recent years have widened access and given opportunity to a population already desperate to start placing their money on sports and online casinos.
The problem wasn’t the demand, but the technological provision. Now that most people have access to a smartphone and cheap data, gambling online has suddenly become a very accessible pastime.
However, this is just the beginning of a long road ahead. With the current growth figures already astounding, experts predict that the industry will make giant leaps in 2024 and beyond.