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Exclusive: Rolling the Dice – Exploring Retail and Online Gambling in Africa

In recent years, Africa has witnessed a significant surge in gambling activity, with both traditional retail outlets and online platforms gaining notable traction across the continent. A recent survey conducted by Statista sheds light on this trend, revealing compelling statistics regarding youth participation in gambling. Kenya emerged at the forefront, with the highest percentage of youth engagement in gambling among selected African countries. According to the survey conducted in December 2021, over 80% of respondents in Kenya reported having engaged in gambling or betting activities. Following closely, Nigeria and South Africa reported substantial participation rates, with 78% and 74% of respondents, respectively, indicating their involvement in gambling or betting. 

These statistics underscore the profound influence of gambling within African societies. The region presents a distinct gambling ecosystem characterised by diverse cultural nuances and socioeconomic factors. Considering this, the forthcoming article will delve into the intricacies of both traditional retail gambling and the burgeoning online gaming landscape in Africa.

Exploring Retail Gambling

Retail gambling has a long history in several African countries. This can be attributed to several sports activities and events in the continent. Retail gambling includes physical establishments such as casinos, betting shops, and lottery stations. Retail gambling provides a physical and social environment in which individuals engage with other players and frequently enjoy entertainment, food, and drinks in addition to their gambling activities. This type of gambling is strongly embedded in African culture, with many people viewing it as a form of socialization and recreation.

The Emergence of Online Gaming

Online gaming, on the other hand, is fast gaining traction across Africa. When compared to retail gaming, it provides more convenience, accessibility, and a greater selection of possibilities. Users can use online gambling platforms to place bets and play numerous casino games from the comfort of their own homes or while moving with their mobile devices. A person can place their bets from anywhere, this menace can be vividly seen in the streets, offices, buses, and even at homes. This adaptability is a huge benefit, especially for people who live in remote places or do not have access to actual gaming shops or outlets.

Factors Driving Online Gambling Growth

Following recent trends, there have been several retail shops being set up even in the most remote towns or villages. The only thing that is needed is proper training and marketing to the locals to acknowledge the presence of a betting kiosk around. People will not find it necessary to go to major towns to gamble except when they need big casinos which are usually found in the city.

The Social Aspect of Retail Gambling

The increasing adoption of mobile devices and internet connectivity across the continent is one of the primary elements fuelling the expansion of online gambling in Africa. Many Africans can now access online gambling platforms and play their favorite games thanks to the surge in affordable smartphones and the availability of mobile connectivity. Everyone in the local village at least can access a smartphone either theirs or someone else’s device.

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On connectivity, though not in every region, African telecommunication companies have tried to spread mobile networks in every village and major town. The Internet can now be accessed without the struggle of looking for high points looking for service and mobile data is now affordable. With little money, one can purchase data that will enable them to play even casino games.

Comparing Retail and Online Gambling

Online gambling also provides a variety of payment alternatives to accommodate Africa’s diversified financial landscape. Many platforms offer mobile money services such as M-Pesa, a common payment option in Africa, which makes it easy for users to deposit and withdraw money from their online gambling accounts. 

In many jurisdictions, mode of payment is one of the vital requirements when applying for a gambling license. This is due to avoiding situations such as non-payments of winnings to customers and monitoring gaming revenue by respective tax agencies. Furthermore, online gaming companies frequently offer appealing rewards and promotional offers to entice new consumers while rewarding loyal gamers. These include joining bonuses, merchandise winnings, and jackpots. The same can be witnessed in retail gambling.

Retail gambling, on the other hand, continues to thrive in Africa due to its social nature and existing trust among the public. Especially this happens to customers who would want their winning instantly in cash form. Traditional betting shops and casinos have built a presence and reputation, serving as gathering places for local populations to assemble and enjoy gaming activities. 

Retail gambling’s social aspect cannot be replicated online, which is an important issue for people who prefer the interactive experience and face-to-face interactions. With the introduction of new games such as crash games and esports, there is a chat room where players communicate with each other and share insightful tips for gambling.

In the African environment, both retail and online gambling offer advantages and disadvantages. While retail gambling provides a social experience, online gambling delivers ease, accessibility, and a greater variety of possibilities. The increased adoption of mobile devices and internet connectivity, combined with appealing payment alternatives and promotional benefits, has contributed to the expansion of online gambling in Africa. Gambling, whether retail or online, continues to play an important role in African society, providing entertainment as well as the possibility of financial benefit to those who participate.

Author: Kenneth Mugambi

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