Will Africa soon welcome online gambling to its shores?

Published on April 26, 2016 in Industry News

South Africa online gambling lawsBusinesses around the world are constantly looking for new markets to tap into and new opportunities to expand. It’s no surprise then that the online gaming sector has set its sights on expanding to the African continent.

While gambling laws differ across the continent, South African gambling laws currently state that online gambling is still illegal in the country. Land-based casinos and online sportsbooks are allowed within the Republic of South Africa, but there are still many fighting for the legalisation of online gaming.

Attempts to change the law

Early in 2015 a bill was being championed as the game changer with regards to finally turning the South African online betting laws in favour of online punters. Unfortunately, the laws still remain the same, but this has not stopped large international gambling companies from staking their claim in Africa.

In 2014, casino software developer, Playtech, started planning their expansion into Africa. Having seen the potential of the largely untapped market, Playtech has laid out plans to be the leaders in the African online gambling market should laws change in their favour.

Playtech has already started their move into Africa with a partnership deal that saw the casino software company and the Peermont Group working together. This has played a large part in paving the way for Playtech. 

"Should the regulatory landscape change we are confident that Playtech is well-positioned to do well across Africa, but with a strong focus on South Africa," Weizer commented on the situation."We have a unique proposition for operators that delivers the best technology, including a retail sports offering tailored specifically for the African market, and are in discussions with a number of companies who see Playtech as a very promising partner."

Lucrative market

In 2015 the legal gambling trade in South Africa showed that the market is by no means a poor one. The land-based and sportsbook market brought in revenues of R16.5 billion (approximately €1 billion) with almost R2 billion in taxes being generated. It’s obvious then that the market has potential, but is mostly restricted by current laws and legislation. However, the restricted number of land-based casinos allowed to operate within South African also means that there is very little opportunity for growth in the market. It’s due to this that casino operators are calling for a change in online gambling laws with the hopes of being able to offer African punters a new product and therefore generate larger revenues.

More than just laws that stand in the way of online businesses, another large hurdle that is slowly being overcome is the accessibility of stable internet connections throughout Africa. Compared to as little as a year ago, the number of homes with internet access has already increased drastically, but that still leaves a large portion of the continent in the dark. Thanks to the expansion of companies and the development of poorer areas throughout Africa, even small villages in Nairobi are now gaining access to the World Wide Web.

Naturally, the integration of internet access to African citizens could have a positive effect that benefits more than just online gambling companies. Due the exchange rate many African people could live on as little as €1 a day, which offers them the chance to earn extra cash via the internet. Even a sum as small as €5 could feed a hungry family and thanks to the internet, that could be possibly earned without having to travel across the continent and without leaving families behind.

The many faces of Africa

As in any country or on any continent, the wealthier side of Africa, mainly found in South Africa lives and works with the internet on a daily basis. It’s these Africans that international online gambling companies are hoping to attract. In fact, many already have.

Just as in any country where online gambling is still illegal, there are risky illegal gambling establishments that crop up and offer the chance to win big. Many estimate that there are already thousands and thousands of South African people with active gambling accounts across the country. The RealTime Gaming network is said to be the most popular. 

While online gambling companies around the world await the change in African laws, the future looks to be bright with new bills calling for these changes to be passed are always being considered. There’s no doubt that once that happens and international companies can finally expand into Africa, or at the very least South Africa, a large number of people will take to the internet looking for a new way to be a big winner.