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Caroline Kongwa: South Africa’s Share of the African Betting Sector has risen

ICE London 2024 has kicked off in style, focusing on exploring the opportunities present in the African igaming sector. In an interview with Caroline Kongwa, Chief Strategic Adviser for the National Gambling Board in South Africa, Ella Williamson, a reporter at ICE VOX was keen to gain insight into the initiatives being undertaken by the gambling authority to enhance South Africa’s appeal to investors.

Caroline explored topics on growth opportunities in the emerging market of South Africa, technology, regulation, compliance, and managing problem gambling.

According to Caroline, as the Covid 19 pandemic ravaged the world, the gambling industry in Africa emerged as one of the few sectors to have steadily grown. “South Africa being one of the pre-eminent jurisdictions in Africa definitely has shown great opportunities, so post-covid we have the betting sector which has risen,” explains Caroline Kongwa, Chief Strategic Adviser for the National Gambling Board in South Africa.

“We look at the betting sector that has risen; we are looking from the gambling industry which accounts for 47B Rand, the betting Sector is Accounting for 50% of that. Previously before Covid, it only accounted for 23% of that.”

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This unexpected growth in the online betting sector, though, hasn’t translated to a decrease in the profits of other gambling fields such as land-based casinos. “Although the betting sector share has risen, this does not mean that other modes of gambling are doing any less good because when you compare from a rand value, although, for example, casinos used to account for 60% before Covid. They are still realizing their profits pre-Covid, and that is on the same level at this point and time,” says Kongwa of the industry’s resilience. Caroline Kongwa iGaming South Africa

With the rise in gambling activities comes an increased concern about problem gambling. Kongwa points out that, “From a revenue base for government, more gross gambling revenue, more tax will be collected, but then we have seen that more people are gambling, so we just need to watch for how gambling harm and addiction is managed.”

The National Gambling Board has been considering various strategies to balance profitability and negative consequences, one of which is the use of technology. “More gamblers or punters interact with the online platforms, whether to conduct their day-to-day activities or to gamble, so there are opportunities there. So in that area, our priority would be to make sure that we ensure we maintain a balance when it comes to protecting individuals against harm that may be caused by the easy access to gambling activities.”

Additionally, South Africa is known for its high standards in ensuring that fully certified operators enter the market. “Gambling has been well established in terms of where we are going, and as an emerging market or jurisdiction, we definitely provide regulatory certainty. That is one thing; we have laws that have been in place for a while. Currently, we have our 2004 Act, based on which we regulate all licensees together with all provincial gambling boards,” says Kongwa.

The country’s regulatory certainty, paired with a high level of compliance and industry players who are always out to ensure they comply, make it a key market for any investor to explore when starting up operations in Africa. Caroline Kongwa iGaming South Africa

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