Sports Betting in Africa: A Growing Industry

Sports betting and lotteries have been part of human history for thousands of years. Throughout history, activities like these have been at the core of our culture, from gambling on gladiator fights in ancient Rome to the state-run lotteries of ancient China. 

Despite sports betting and lotteries being present in Africa for thousands of years, government involvement in these activities only dates back to the middle of the 20th century. In addition to being able to transform the continent’s economy, sports betting and lotteries can also increase peace between neighboring countries and people.

Across Africa, people are united by one thing, regardless of their religion, culture, language, political belief, or social standing. Sport – especially football – is essential to them. This combined with an estimated 1.3 billion people, and a median age of only 19.7 years,  makes sports betting operators highly desirable and lucrative.

Africa’s Modern Sports Betting Industry

Horse racing and football are the two most popular types of sports betting in Africa today. The Ottoman Empire’s North African territories have been betting on horse races since the early 15th century. Considering football has become Africa’s most popular sport 70 years ago, sports betting in football has been around for a long time.

Today, sports betting occurs between the “bookies” and the people placing their bets. Choosing a bookmaker can be hard since there are many available on the market, but the renowned review site BettingCompanies.Africa can help make that decision easier by providing information on different betting sites. Bookmakers accept inbound bets and wagers on sporting events based on a win/lose/draw scenario and predetermined odds – the ratio of payout to stake. If you won your bet, you can withdraw your winnings from the bookmaker once the match is complete. If you lose the match, you’re out of luck.

Betting on Sports Across Africa

It has been a decade since sports betting exploded across Africa. Almost half of South African adults participate regularly in sports betting, the most advanced economy in Africa. Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa combined had a sports betting market worth nearly $40 billion in 2018.

There has been a long history of sports betting in South Africa, but it has not always been harmonious. After being heavily curtailed since 1673, government regulations would not change for 300 years. Despite 1965’s legalization of horse racing, full legalization and reformation did not occur until 2004.

How Did Sports Betting Become Popular in Africa?

Approximately 60 million Nigerians aged 18-40 participate in sports betting according to a recently concluded study. Each day, they bet an average of 3000 Naira or $15. In South Africa, over half of adults place sports bets regularly, according to government statistics. This is also true in Southern, East, Central, and Western Africa. Below we have listed a few reasons why sports betting became so popular in Africa

The Growth of Mobile Sports Betting

Sports betting was traditionally limited to retail outlets dotted across the continent, but with the rise of internet connectivity and mobile money technologies, sports betting has taken off quickly. Smartphones are becoming cheaper, data is getting more affordable, and mobile betting is becoming more common.

Laws That Make Sports Betting Easy

Due to the lenient laws concerning sports betting in most African countries, European and American sports betting firms are rapidly expanding into Africa. The gambling market in South Africa is the only one that is properly regulated by all the relevant authorities. In most African countries, gambling laws are relatively new, and the industry does not yet have a regulatory system in place.

The phenomenon of sports betting is not new. Throughout history, humans have wagered on sports. Sports betting has changed due to advances in technology, along with the development of sophisticated, trustworthy betting systems. The ability to ensure fairness and ensure no books are stacked is changing the face of sports betting. Sports betting is poised to increase in popularity due to these technological advancements and the favorable demographic changes occurring in Africa.


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