The Growth of Online Gambling in Africa

Due to a perfect storm of factors including advancements in technology and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, online gambling is booming all over the world, with the industry generating a record-breaking revenue of $53 billion in 2021. It’s never been easier to access an abundance of quality online casino sites, but with the increasingly tight regulation of European and international gambling markets (including online casinos in the United Kingdom), places that have previously been known for their comparatively inhospitable approaches to legalized online casino gambling (such as Canada and some African countries) are opening up to fill the newly emerging gap. If you’re an African gamer looking to find the best casino sites to play with, you could be spoilt for choice depending on your country of residence.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons behind the rapid growth of online gambling in the African continent:

African Gamers Love Casinos!

Whilst much of the investment in the African online casino industry has come from offshore companies with the end goal of expansion in the continent, it’s also worth noting that a key reason for the market’s growth is the fact that sports betting, online gambling and casino gambling are extremely popular with many Africans. Residents in a range of African countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Malawi are especially well-known for their love of placing bets. Given this natural affinity with gambling, it seems only natural that the growth of the African online casino industry has been propelled in part by the casino-loving players who reside on the continent.

Better Responsible Gambling Practices

The influx of new online casinos in African countries such as Malawi has led to many regulators and responsible gaming advocates amping up their visible responsible gambling strategies. As stipulated by the Malawi Gaming Board, it’s essential that gamblers never use online casinos as their main source of income. Playing your favorite online casino games should be fun, fulfilling and entertaining, not about financial gain. If you feel as though the fun may have come to an end when it comes to gambling responsibly online, it might be time to quit or take a well-deserved break. With widely-practiced responsible gambling serving as a key indicator of development and success in any regulated online casino market, the rise of regulated responsible gaming in countries across the continent could be another key reason why offshore operators have been inclined to branch out into Africa in recent years.

Online Gambling Regulation in Africa

Gradual changes to Africa’s famously complicated gambling regulation system have also had an effect on the growth of the online gaming industry, but the African continent can still be a bit of a regulatory minefield, depending on which country is in focus – for instance, Tanzania has always displayed a far more liberal regulatory stance towards gambling than many of its neighbors. Because Africa is a vast continent made up of 54 countries, things start to get more difficult when we consider that each of these 54 jurisdictions can have its own rules and regulations related to gambling online.

Generally speaking, players in many African nations may legally access and use offshore online gambling sites, whereas the legality of domestic operators often depends wholly on the rules of their specific country or region. If you’re on the lookout for the best online casinos SA has to offer, you’ll be happy to learn that many of the most popular gaming sites  in the country are run by domestic (as well as offshore) operators. Some of the most popular choices of iGaming sites amongst South African players include PlayOJO Casino, Casino Tropez, Springbok Casino, Yeti Casino, and Genesis Casino. With the expansion of the online casino industry across the continent, it seems likely that the future of African online gambling will include a more standardized set of regulations that can be more easily applied to multiple countries or regions.

Effects of COVID-19

Since being first officially declared a pandemic in March 2020, COVID-19 has had a dramatic effect on all aspects of our lives. While the lockdowns related to the pandemic were extremely damaging for certain sectors (most notably hospitality, nightlife & entertainment and land-based retail), they have had almost the opposite effect on web-focused industries such as online gambling and online shopping. It’s thought that more people started gambling online during lockdowns due to the fact that they were forced to stay at home, often accumulating more disposable income than usual despite the prevalence of furlough schemes. The cancellation of much-loved tournaments and live sporting events all over the world has been another key boost to online gambling, as more of us than ever turned to virtual sports betting and sportsbook sites to fill the void. While the negative effects of the pandemic need little explanation, it’s certainly interesting that the African online gambling market seems to have benefited from the lockdowns, perhaps more than any other emerging market in the world.

Economic Growth in the African Continent

With the peak of the pandemic well behind us, countries all over the world have started to lift restrictions and try to get back to normal. However, the initial economic slumps experienced at its worst have been largely avoided or remedied in many African countries, with various economies thriving in the face of adversity. With an average expected GDP of 3% and a growing middle class with increasing levels of disposable income to spend as they please, Africa has seen unparalleled economic growth despite the turbulent current climate.

Technological Advancements

Along with economic growth, advancements made in technology have had an unavoidably positive effect on the rising popularity of the online casino and sportsbook betting industry, in Africa and indeed the rest of the world. With more easily-accessible high-speed internet acting as the key thrust, higher numbers of players in developing countries have been encouraged to start gambling online, while the rise of digital wallet providers and the recent crypto-currency boom have also been important factors behind industry growth. While it’s now easier to play and pay online than ever, the online gambling experience is also becoming increasingly immersive due to emerging tech such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Metaverse. With the rapid rate at which new tech is developed and released, it’s inevitable that there will be further technological ‘tricks up the sleeve’ to be utilized by the African online gambling sector in the coming years.

The Future of African Online Gambling

If the past two years are anything to go by, the online gambling industry in Africa is set to continue to grow exponentially, along with its regional economy. As more foreign investors and casino and sportsbook operators establish offshore gambling services accessible to players on the continent, it seems highly likely that we will see more domestic operators spring into business too. Especially as national legislation becomes more ‘gambling-friendly’ and loosely regulated across the region. If you’re an online gambler based in Africa, the future looks very bright indeed. 

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