iGaming Gets Fired Up in the Heart of Africa

Africa is making many industry leaders sit up and take notice, with plenty of entrepreneurs getting ahead of the game with their new iGaming platforms in African nations. New platforms are popping up by the day as businesses quickly catch on to this profitable market, making Africa the fastest-growing market in the world with active players that outnumber South Asia.

The vast majority of African countries have legal, regulated gambling. Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya are the largest markets and have become stand-out names, with places like Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Ghana also reaping the success of the industry. In 2021 alone, the total revenue from mobile gaming alone across the three largest markets was approximately half a billion US dollars.

It is worth any prospective iGaming or gambling business knowing that although South Africa is currently the largest market, Nigeria is expected to overtake South Africa and become the number one destination for African iGaming businesses.

Diversify iGaming

Africa is coming into its own. As the second-largest continent on the planet, with the second-biggest population, it seemed a brilliant source of untapped potential. Africa is made up of 54 recognised sovereign states, eight territories, and two states that are not formally recognised. A vast difference all in one place. The collective population of Africa stands at around 1,4000,000,000, it’s no wonder Africa quickly caught the eye of the iGaming world.

Traditionally, many operators were reluctant to branch out into Africa due to attitudes towards gambling, corruption, instability, poverty, and a lack of access points to iGaming platforms. As we entered the 21st century things began to change.

Africa has a rich and varied cultural history that includes many changes over the years with migration and rule. Take Morocco and compare it to Botswana, for example, two very different nations. The notable cultural differences across the landscape also mean the history of gambling is widely different from place to place. These stumbling blocks can put pressure on companies to make sure their content is accessible.

With all this in mind, it seems obvious that iGaming would better establish itself where a high population of people speak a common language, access to technology was wider, and where gambling was part of the culture.

Gambling & Sports History

Although not all games were enjoyed across all regions, some popular traditional gambling games and activities include betting on horse racing, abbias (a pitch and toss game), mancala (played in various forms using beads or stones), and card games. You could say, gaming is in Africa’s blood.

Africa is a continent of sports lovers, football is commonly played as are other sports that filtered in like cricket and motorsports. Gambling has always lived side-by-side with sport, so it was inevitable that sports betting would grow.

Where is Africa Now?

A significant shift has occurred recently in how Africans access gambling due to advances in technology and the affordability of mobile devices. As more African markets open up to international companies, foreign businesses are seizing the chance to take a stronghold in the frontier markets. Local tech companies are also growing, with many new startups training local people and boosting employment and the economy. The stronger geographical penetration and presence of iGaming has resulted in diversified products aimed solely at Africans.

Lotteries

Lotteries have been popular for hundreds of years in one form or another. Access to the internet gives more people the chance to take part in international lotteries with life-changing jackpots all at the touch of a button.

In Malawi, one mixed-media licensed lottery provider draws their lottery numbers four times a day, five days a week, because the demand is so great! Lotteries are also popular in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana, and South Africa. Lotteries appeal to men and women of all ages and continue to be a common activity. South Africans also enjoy playing Fahfee, a Chinese form of lottery. Nigerians too love the lottery and their national lottery is hugely popular.

Sportsbooks

Sports betting is the most common form of gambling across the continent. In Uganda, around 74% of the population has placed at least one sports bet in their time. Nigerians and South Africans enjoy sports betting on global leagues like the Premier League, German Bundesliga, Italian Serie A, and Spanish La Liga, as well as local matches.

Kenya is a nation of varied tastes with a forward-thinking attitude when it comes to iGaming,  horse racing is very popular there. Sports betting alone is estimated to be worth around $40 billion across Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa. Government reports state that over 50% of South Africans engage in routine sports betting.

Nigerians love sports betting, which makes sportsbooks an excellent option for any Nigerian iGaming business.  Nigerians are especially keen on horse racing and football betting. An investigation in the country showed that approximately 60 million Nigerians between 18 and 40 years old are regularly involved in sports betting, spending on average 5,000 Naira (about $15) daily.

Casinos

South Africa has a large number of bricks-and-mortar casinos and a bevy of homegrown online casinos and bookmakers. The largest is not only the biggest land-based casino in Africa but also the fifth largest in the entire world.

Nigeria itself is seen as somewhat of a trailblazer when it comes to African iGaming and the country has many popular and varied online casinos. There are land-based casinos as well as a wide choice of iGaming sites to enjoy and this is increasing at a fast rate.

Casino games of all forms are hugely popular in places like Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana, Senegal, Zambia, Guinea, Mauritius, Seychelles, Congo, Sierra Leone, Cameroon and Angola. Places like South Africa and Malawi are big lovers of fun activities like card games, online scratchcards, bingo, and dice games.

Fantasy & eSports

Fantasy and eSports have taken off in a huge way in Africa, especially in countries such as Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Ghana. The ignition of more local digital and tech companies has helped drive the popularity. They are estimated to be worth more than $25 billion. The vast majority of enthusiasts are in the 18-24 age category, with over 30% engaged in online betting.

South Africa is one of the front runners, with an overall gaming industry worth over R4 billion. This tech-savvy nation is a big user of social media, mobile gaming and streaming, and eSports fans engage with streaming sites more than normal television.

Nigeria is another leader in African eSports, and has had a recent growth spurt in all verticals of iGaming. Being a country of athletes, eSports was a natural progression. Many Nigerians enjoy fantasy leagues, and Nigeria is becoming a popular location for new iGaming platforms.

iGaming is Africa’s Future

A recent study of undergraduates from 25 African countries found that many students enjoy iGaming and gambling in general, with around 8% regularly taking part. With the advance of the digital era, iGaming continued to grow as traditional land-based casinos and bookmakers dropped in popularity.  Regulations continue to change as governments seize the opportunity to reap financial rewards, such as Ghana’s recent 10% tax on sports betting and lotteries.

More African iGaming events are taking place, like the annual B2B gaming event ICE Africa, which takes place this year on 27 – 29 October in Johannesburg. Recently, the ninth BiG Africa took place, also in Johannesburg, between 30 – 31 March. Thousands of attendees are already looking ahead to the tenth BiG Africa event on 26 – 28 March 2024. Also coming up next year is SiGMA Africa, held on 15 – 18 January 2024, in Nairobi, Kenya.

Many operators previously steered clear of Africa, but now realise the true potential of this huge combined market and are swiftly getting their feet in the door. Creating an African-based iGaming business with a platform solution provider that specialises in markets like Nigeria, is one way to ensure the product will meet the needs and desires of the consumer demographic.

iGaming platforms must have a strong Android mobile platform to appeal to the majority of the market, with a stripped-back front end for some markets due to the majority of devices in use. Each operator must have their platform localised specifically to each locale to accommodate the vast differences between the various nations. Many Africans also require a wide range of payment options to fit their needs due to the lack of traditional banking in some areas. As well as that, Africans expect their loyalty to be rewarded with all sorts of offers, bonuses, and loyalty schemes.

Get Into Africa

Now is the ideal time to break into iGaming in Africa. WeAreGame specialises in emerging markets and Nigeria is one of our iGaming areas of expertise. If you would like to find out about how we can help you start your own Nigerian iGaming business, or expand your current brand with our platforms solutions, get in touch with us at: [email protected]

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