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Online sports betting craze in Africa is here to stay

BUSINESS

Online sports betting craze in Africa is here to stay

We have previously sports betting has become popular in Kenya and other African countries. This rise of these betting sites has been attributed to the increased internet penetration and mobile money services.

Certain countries in the continent like Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa have in recent times experienced a massive outbreak of betting companies. In Kenya alone, we have a number of these companies cashing in on Kenyans gambling craze. In fact, it is estimated that the annual turnover of sports betting in Kenya is $20 million which amounts to Sh2.1 billion.

Sports betting is literally taking over Africa. Sports is no longer just about entertainment, it’s about making and losing money.

The size of the betting market in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa combined is projected to be worth nearly $37 billion by 2018. That is according to a 2014 Gambling Outlook Report released by PricewaterhouseCoopers. We also highlighted this report in the last article we wrote on this topic.

As much as the continent is still routed as a very poor continent where 24 percent of people live below the poverty line, it has emerged as one of the most promising and lucrative markets for sports betting.

Betting sites provide an online platform where people can access information about the different sports being played. They can then upload funds to bet on their preferred sports, decide in terms of players and teams of the sport to bet on.

Supporters of sports betting argue that it’s a business that offers employment to thousands of young people in Africa. They also argue that it provides quick money for ordinary people, generate tax revenue for governments and also contribute to economic growth in African countries. They could be right, but critics in the continent, however, think otherwise.

It is clear that Kenyans and Africans are spending huge sums of money on betting sites. If you use public transport in Nairobi the chances of a young person seated next to you betting are always very high.  It is just a craze that we will have to live with for the longest time ever.

This explains why sports betting companies from across the world are spreading into Africa. I mean, there could be a good reason why they are doing this, don’t you think?

First, as a continent, we have the youngest population in the world. Over 200 million people in Africa are aged between 15 and 24. In Kenya alone, 80 % of our population is below 35 years. In addition, a number of these young Africans are unemployed.

In Kenya, approximately 800,000 young people enter the labour market every year and youth unemployment is estimated to be as high as 35 percent compared to the overall unemployment rate of 10 percent. This are the people sports betting companies target. Sports betting sites provides these young people with an opportunity to earn income.

Added to this the strong sports fan base in the continent. European football league, especially the English, German, Spanish, French and Italian leagues have millions of fans on the continent. This is also making Africa a promising continent for the sports betting business.

Africa’s population is expected to double by 2050 and this means by then, the continent will have the largest population of young people in the world. Most of these young people will be unemployed and this will translate to a potential source of growth for sports betting industry to stay.

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