How Africa’s Online Gambling Industry compares with others

The Sun
How Africa’s Online Gambling Industry compares with others

Africa is not traditionally associated with online gambling, however, its industry is growing at a healthy rate. Much like the US, there are areas where gambling is welcomed, and others where it is not, but most of the African countries hover somewhere in the middle; gambling is unregulated and while no local venues are provided, players have access to international online casinos happy to offer their services.

The gambling industry in Africa is still establishing itself, putting it years behind other markets like the US and China, where the gambling sectors are firmly established. The advantage that Africa has is that there are many international online casinos which have been developed for these establishes markets, and these casinos are now offering their services to African customers. This means that they can get immediate access to top quality sites without any teething problems.

A big factor which has contributed to the growth of the industry is an increase in technological penetration. Unlike the countries with the largest online gambling industries where nearly 100% of adults have internet access, most countries in Africa see figures of 50% or less. Of course, online services are going to have difficulties reaching their intended audience if there is no internet or a shortage of internet-ready devices. This also explains why online gambling is more popular in countries like South Africa and Nigeria, where most of the population are connected.

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By far the most popular gambling activity across the continent is sports betting. The African people are well known for their love of sports, with European football being a particular favourite. Placing bets is seen as a way of supporting and having faith in your team, as well as a way to hopefully make some more money. This contrasts with countries like China, where casino games are the most popular way for players to gamble online.

Because the majority of African nations have not formally legalised gambling and laid out a clear regulatory framework, they aren’t directly benefitting from permitting overseas casinos to operate within their borders. Some countries like Tanzania, Kenya, and Ghana, have begun issuing licenses and collecting taxes, and they’ve seen a huge increase in tax revenue over the last few years. This money goes directly to the government and allows them to invest in local services and improvements for the benefits of everyone in the country. Because they feel welcomed, new casinos are more likely to invest in these areas.

A Well-Regulated Industry – How Africa Could Learn From The UK

Despite having a much smaller population than other economic superpowers, the UK has the third-largest gambling industry in the world. The government were quick to recognise the potential within the sector and quickly laid down plans to make sure they could benefit. All online casinos, whether based within the UK or operating from overseas, have to have a license in order to offer their services to UK citizens. License applications are only granted if companies meet the requirements in terms of service and customer care, as well as promising to pay the going tax rate.

All these rules mean that the UK players only have access to the best online casinos, which operate in an honest way and have good customer service. Sites like 888 online casino provide peace of mind to players, so they can play with confidence knowing that their deposits won’t disappear, or their account details be used fraudulently. The UK government also benefits because it collects at least 20% tax on all company profits, money which is spent on education, healthcare, and local provisions like road maintenance.

Could a similar system work in Africa? It must do if the continent is to benefit from the increasing amounts of gambling action its people are engaging in. The last few years have been unpredictable for economies and especially the industries which rely on foreigners like travel and hospitality. Opening the door to online casino operators and taking advantage of systems which already exist, could be the best way for African economies to stabilise and start to grow once again.

The first step would be for more countries to adopt a licensing system to regulate the casinos which are already operating to their citizens. Requiring casinos and sports betting sites to uphold a certain set of standards helps to protect gamblers would raise the reputation of the sector and convince more people to use licenced sites. And collecting tax revenue from those sites can give a much-needed cash injection to developing economies. In Uganda alone, tax revenues from legalised gambling quadrupled between 2014 and 2018, demonstrating just how effective legalisation can be in generating government income.


Like many industries in Africa, the gambling industry is still growing. Unlike others, in most instances it is not directly benefiting local governments through taxation and revenue. The online gambling industry will continue to grow whether it is explicitly legalised or not, because it is becoming easier and more affordable for African citizens to access the internet. Whether countries embrace these changes and ensure they can benefit, is up to them.

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