When one thinks of Africa, gambling is not the first thing that comes to mind. Of course, this is because African societies are both very religious and not very financially stable. Despite these aspects, gambling in Africa is growing in popularity year-on-year, and there’s a myriad of contributing factors.
Some believe that African’s fondness for playing games of chance correlates to centuries of colonial rule. The gravitation toward western social ideals, where this is a common pastime, also has had its effects. There is no doubt that globally, the number of people playing games of chance and betting on sports is continuously increasing. Before people had to walk to a venue to experience the thrills associated with this activity, now they can enjoy hundreds of themed online slots from highly reviewed igaming platforms.
Interactive-gaming is a new trend, and as internet penetration in the continent increases, so will the number of those who spin digital reels. Below, we list a few of the current gambling countries in Africa.
- South Africa
There can be no discussion about which country is the leader concerning the number of punters and slot fanatics on the continent, as South Africa is the undisputed king. According to its National Gaming Board, 39 land-based casinos operate within its borders, out of a possible 41, and the industry brings in annual revenues of about $2 billion. The same board conducted a study more than a decade ago, which revealed that close to 97% of residents participate in lotto draws, and almost 28% of them love to play slots. Only 8.3% of people surveyed said that they have no interest in any betting-related activity.
Before there was any gambling regulation, experts believed that there were more than 2,000 illegal betting houses throughout the land. Thus, no one can deny South Africans’ affection for the activity, and the government is raking in the tax benefits. Though, they do not allow their country’s gaming operators to offer their services over the internet. Foreign companies can do so after attaining a local license.
The Indian Ocean coast nation, famous for its scenic landscapes and wildlife preservers, is the home to the second-most casino in Africa. In total, there are 30 legal gambling facilities in the Republic of Kenya. Naturally, casino games are super-popular, but Kenyans are especially fond of sports betting. In 2019, social media management platform Hootsuite reported that 11 of the top 20 Google searches in Kenya were directly related to betting. Furthermore, Geopoll’s research showed that the nation’s youth spends $50 more on sports wagers than bettors from other sub-Saharan countries, with football being their favorite sport.
The capital Nairobi, as expected, dominates the gaming landscape in the country with 21 venues, of which Casino Flamingo is the largest one. It has over 150 slot machines, 15 table games, and two poker ones.
The continent’s most populous nation is also one of its most active when it comes to gambling. It only has three operational casinos, two in the capital of Abuja and one in Lagos. The laws in Naija are interesting, as the National Lottery Regulatory Commission oversees the activity, and games like roulette, craps, and non-skilled card games are illegal. No provision in Nigerian laws regulates online gambling, and Lagos only recently passed legislation concerning it. Most bettors like to wager at offshore sites such as Betway and 888 Sports on football, though a few local operators are also options worth considering. The industry finds itself in a growth phase with new interesting impacts on both the economy and society.
Recently, iGaming giant BtoBet, announced a partnership agreement with Nigerian bookmaker BetXperience, for its platforms to power BetXperience betting shops and online channels. BtoBet, predicts that the African iGaming market could reach a size of $2 billion by 2024 and that Nigeria will be at the forefront of this digital revolution.
We mentioned colonial rule at the start. Well, Morocco was a French protectorate from 1912 to 1956. Many believe that the French-influence led to a lax stance on gambling in this 99.9% Muslim country. Islam law prohibits gambling, but Morocco’s seven gaming venues target tourists, not locals. The first one, Casino de Marrakech, was built four years before the country gained its independence. Today, the largest establishment in the country is Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort in El Jadida. It has close to 500 slots and boasts 46 game tables.
Morocco has no legal restrictions that forbid playing games of chance over the internet. Thus, Moroccan players are free to visit and enjoy online casinos operated by foreign companies. When it comes to sports wagering, besides football matches, residents also like to wager on rugby. Online slots aside, roulette is a popular classic casino game, and many enjoy it at sites like Spin Casino and 888 Casino.
South Africa’s northern neighbor has been deeply affected by the Rainbow Nation’s flourishing gaming industry. In 2012, Botswana’s government passed the Gambling Act, which aimed to consolidate all forms relating to the activity, and created a regulatory entity – the Botswana Gambling Authority. Before, the government oversaw land-based venues, but the act brought lotteries, sports betting, poker, bingo, and mobile wagering into the fold. The government opted for this move because they wanted to capitalize on a booming industry and accentuate tourism in the area.
In January of 2020, the Botswana Gambling Authority stated that they were optimistic about awarding a national lottery license, this event has yet to materialize. After receiving five bids for the ten-year-license, negotiations with the company Grow Mine are ongoing. There are ten legal gaming venues spread out through seven Botswanan cities. The largest one is in Gaborone, which is the Grand Palm Casino. In terms of online gambling, the country gets categorized as a white-level jurisdiction. Meaning, the legality of various forms of the activity remains unclear, although the prosecution of residents who play at offshore platforms is highly unlikely.
The former British colony, in 2006, put forward its current legal framework that regulates betting when it passed Gaming Act 721 through parliament. However, Ghana is a leader regarding gambling regulation in Africa. It passed multiple laws relating to wagering, as early as 1960, when the Lotto & Betting Act 94 came into power. It was responsible for the formation of the nation’s lottery system, created to generate tax revenues. Then followed the Football Pools Authority Act 78 of 1961, and in the 1970s, Ghana regulated casino licensing and slots. Today, it has six casinos that offer gaming services to both locals and tourists. The largest is Victoria Casino in Accra, which has over 1,300 slots and video poker machines.
Ghana’s citizens are free to play at foreign sites, and many choose to do so at Betway and JackpotCity Casino. Slots are the preferred games of choice for Ghanaian players, and when it comes to sports betting, they like to lay down money on matches from top European football leagues. The National Lottery Authority offers eight games available through mobile devices, and their main one is a pick five from 90 lotto draw. It also offers sports betting via their Soccer Cash option online and through bet shops and sports bars.
Every year, gambling revenues rise on the second-largest continent as the activity becomes less taboo, and nations get further influenced by goings-on in European and North American societies. However, Africa’s land-based industry should soon plateau, the same as with most markets, as people shift from offline to online. Internet betting is the future, and with an internet penetration of only 18%, Africa has only scratched the surface of its iGaming potential.
Most of its nations do not regulate playing games of chance and sports betting on the internet, and revenues stemming from the practice spill over to countries on other continents due to outdated legislation. Once lawmakers move their feet, the market will boom and become competitive with Europe and North America.