Over the course of the past two decades, attitudes towards gambling around the world have moved and shifted dramatically.
In the United States for example, a country with traditionally firm opposition to sports betting and online casino games, progress is being made toward legalisation on a state-by-state basis.
Elsewhere in the world, countries with tough anti-gambling stances are being forced to modify their outlook as technology continues to change the gambling landscape year by year. Africa lands on both ends of the spectrum in terms of gambling, with some countries completely outlawing the practice and others embracing it both in-person and online.
In this article we will explore the winds of change that are circulating through the continent, highlighting countries with changing attitudes as well as analysing what changing gambling trends in Africa mean.
Angola: The British Model
The southern African nation of Angola is home to a smattering of land-based casinos and gambling venues, but it is the online sector where the country is taking the largest strides.
A new law was introduced in Angola in 2016, which was designed to introduce added regulation to the online gambling sector. This law seeks to provide a defined legal framework from which Angolan online gambling companies can operate. The bill also introduced clear tax reforms which are believed to have significantly boosted the public coffers in Angola.
The regulatory and tax reforms implemented by the Angolan government seem similar to those in place in the UK, a country which is often lauded for its progressive attitudes toward the gambling sector.
Gambling of any form in the UK is licensed and governed by the UK Gambling Commission, which requires online operators to take steps for appropriate customer care and charge appropriate fees. Online casinos are regularly audited to ensure none of their games are fixed so as not to scam players.
The system works well for players in the UK, as it means they’re guaranteed the best services. Established providers like 888 Casino offer access to thousands of quality, unique and exclusive online casino games you will not find anywhere else with attractive welcome bonuses.
If Angola continues to follow a similar pattern to that of the UK, the nation could reap the benefits of taxes coming from the gambling industry and ensure players aren’t left vulnerable.
Kenya: African Pacesetters
Whilst many countries on the continent are slowly moving toward more progressive gambling legislation, Kenya has been reaping the benefits of a thriving industry for the better part of a decade. The first legal, online casino in Kenya went live in 2011 and since then a huge number of home-grown providers have popped up.
Such has been the success of online gambling in the country that a Kenyan provider became official shirt sponsors of then, Premier League Hull City and most recently Champions League chasing Everton. Unsurprisingly, online sports betting is the most popular form of gambling in Kenya with an estimated revenue of $2 billion per annum.
(As well as having a thriving online gambling industry, Kenya is also home to a number of great land-based casinos.)
South Africa: The American Model
If Angola are pursuing the modern, progressive British model toward gambling then South Africa are following the antiquated, American model.
South Africa is undoubtedly Africa’s largest gambling market, recording staggering annual revenues from the industry. Despite that, the country is reticent to moving with the times and legalising online casino gambling.
The ‘National Gambling Act of 2004’ and the subsequent ‘National Gambling Amendment Act of 2008’ whilst permitting online sports betting strictly prohibit online casino gambling.
The result being that many online casino lovers in the country are left to illegally gamble with online providers. Those individuals found to be doing so by law enforcement are then subject to punitive fines.
Anecdotally there is evidence of changing attitudes amongst the public toward gambling in South Africa. For supporters of online casinos, it is hoped that these changing attitudes are recognised by lawmakers and reflected in modernised legislation.
Two decades ago it was generally accepted by many gambling companies that Africa was not a region worth prioritising when it came to investment and marketing.
The thought was, that the majority of countries neither had the infrastructure nor the public fervour to sustain a thriving gambling economy.
In recent years this thinking has been proved incorrect, with a number of overseas companies heavily investing in the African market. Indeed, many companies are now prioritising African markets over their own domestic markets.
This is great for consumers, as it gives them a wide range of options when it comes to placing bets and wagers. However, in some countries, foreign operators are taking advantage of lax or antiquated legislation allowing them to accept bets from Africans without paying tax in the territory.
This is particularly affecting South Africa, which should be yet another jolt in the arm for legislators who are undecided on the future of online casino gambling in the country.
African Sports Fervour
Africa is home to some of the most fervent sports fans on the planet with interest in a whole range of sports growing exponentially year on year. Athletics, rugby, volleyball, basketball and boxing are all growing in popularity in Africa, but it is football that is really driving growth in sporting interest on the continent.
According to the latest available statistics, prior to the pandemic 300 million people in Africa were regularly tuning in to the English Premier League action on a weekend. And it’s not just the big clubs that are attracting the interests of African eyes, Championship side Huddersfield Town have a dedicated fan club in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
What all of this sporting interest means to gambling is a meteoric rise in the number of bets being placed on Premier League football and other sporting events.
(The Premier League is the most popular foreign football league in Africa, but there is also growing interest in La Liga and the German Bundesliga.)
In many countries around the world, gambling can often be associated with older members of society due to the link between age and disposable income. However, industry statistics in Africa show that a greater proportion of people under the age of 30 are betting than in Europe and North America.
This has been attributed to two factors, firstly the improving economic picture in Africa wherein more and more people are earning enough money to spend on leisure pursuits. Secondly, football fever is a craze sweeping through the younger generations who are more than happy to wager on their adopted football clubs.
For the gambling industry this is great news, as it bodes well for future growth and in countries with less progressive gambling laws, increases the pressure on legislators to move toward widespread legalisation.
Only time will tell if the majority of Africa can move together to modernise their gambling industries, but judging by most indicators, the prospects of that are good, or as some would say ‘a sure bet’.
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