Africa is fast emerging as a favorable and rewarding market for sports betting. New businesses — both local and international — are establishing their presence in Africa, hoping to tap in to the emerging pack of sports gamblers.
According to recent studies, millions of Africans are actively involved in gambling, particularly sports betting; in Nigeria, for example, it is estimated that nearly 60 million people between 18 and 40 years of age are actively involved in sports betting.
In South Africa, the situation is no different as more than half of the adult population is reported to be involved in gambling, mainly sports betting, and it is the same story across East and Central Africa.
In an interview with Tuko.co.ke in February, the CEO of Kenyan sports betting company Sport Pesa said the company has more than 2 million registered customers and looks to register even more.
But just like any other form of gambling, sports betting has its fair share of benefits and risks.
Most sports betting fans argue that the business is creating employment for millions of young Africans as well as providing quick money to people who do not have means to earn a stable income.
Since most of the existing sports betting companies are fully licensed, they are obliged to pay tax revenues to their respective governments, making their operations a revenue-generating business that ultimately contributes to overall economic growth in Africa.
Many Africans have become instant millionaires through sports betting.
In fact, many who participate in this kind of gambling say it is quite different from other forms of betting as it is easy to overcome the odds by combining sporting facts with accurate betting strategies.
The rising sports betting obsession in Africa has turned out to be a real source of pain for many families, with couples divorcing and some even committing suicide.
What’s worse, some people are borrowing loans from banks to participate in sports betting. Many are those who have lost their assets to banks.
College students are not an exception to this obsession.
In March this year, a Kenyan university student committed suicide after he allegedly lost his tuition fee to a local sports betting company. The male student from Kabianga University identified as Edwin Mogaka (pictured) was found hanging from a tree near the university.
Many have also argued that the majority of youth participating in sports betting no longer look at it as entertainment, but as a way to make money, which experts say is contributing to growing insecurity.
Gambling is as addictive as any type of narcotic. What’s worse, school children are getting hooked at a very young age. Critics also argue that most betting companies are being used for money laundering.
Need for Control
The growing concern over the negative effects of sports betting seems to have caught the attention of Kenya’s Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario who requested that the Kenyan Ministry of Interior stop registering new sports betting companies last Tuesday.
At a rules and regulations meeting for the national sports fund, where he warned that Kenya has too many gambling firms with no lottery office, Wario said, “Our request to the Ministry of Interior: stop registering all these thousands of betting companies. Every day the stories you hear, instead of buying sugar, the money goes to bets. The children are sleeping hungry. We must control that sector.”
While sports betting may be legal in most African countries, it’s important for governments to come up with regulations that will help sanitize it and make it safe for everyone.