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Exploring the Sports Betting and Gambling Industry in Ethiopia

Even though it has been legal in Ethiopia since 2012, sports betting is still a relatively new phenomenon, and there remains a significant market gap. There is a positive trend for the industry especially after Safaricom was given the green light to launch Mpesa services in the country on May 2023 Ethiopia Gambling

Ethiopia’s gambling market

Numerous sportsbook operators have made attempts to gain market share, even though the majority of them have fallen short, more brands are still trying to enter the market. Brands such as which have roots in Kenya are making a breakthrough in the highly sophisticated market.

In Ethiopia, sports betting is legal, and all bookmakers are required to donate 20% of their net revenues to sports organizations and clubs, following a deal with the National Lottery Administration.

Online & Retail Gambling Markets in Ethiopia

The online sports betting industry is quite small when compared to other African nations like Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia, South Africa, Mozambique, and even Mauritius. Kenya has a sizable betting market, and despite certain legislative issues, it still maintains a sizable betting sector.

The retail betting industry is expanding quickly, and retail stores are beginning to proliferate across the nation.

Read Also: Ethiopia Government Issues a License for Safaricom M-Pesa

Some of the Betting brands in Ethiopia

One of the most well-known was introduced with fanfare in January 2019 and is called Abyssinia Bet. The website is professionally run and offers football jackpot activity with prizes of up to 1 million Birr. The maximum jackpot at Hulu Sports Betting is 64,000 birr, and the platform’s overall winning cap is 300,000 birr. Ethiopia Gambling

Another popular brand that is dominating retail operations in the region is The company boasts over 203 shops to date. Running with over 450 cashiers and 500+ employees. 40% of the shops are agents owned and 60% are directly owned by the company.

With a website and a mobile application, Abyssinia Bet appears to be a market leader. The mobile application is a genuine royal card because it allows users to deposit funds and withdraw prizes digitally when other service providers often only allow users to do so in person.

For instance, Anbessa enables users to visit a physical location, make a deposit, and receive a code for use on the website. When they are ready to withdraw, they can play with their e-wallet funds until they are given a code to take to a nearby retailer.

Through Abyssinia Bet, gamblers can place bets in Amharic, English, and Mandarin and can pay using their mobile device via the Hello Cash system.

The nation’s first-ever sports betting website, Dagoo Sports, was established in 2012 but closed down shortly after.

With 10 approved betting companies offering sportsbooks, all at the lottery administrator’s discretion, the online business is far behind the retail sector. The average retail company has 30 physical locations scattered throughout all 50 states, according to data.

Popular Sporting Events in Ethiopia

The most popular sport for wagering is football, but tennis and cricket are also popular, especially when using foreign-based betting sites. Ethiopia Gambling

However, there are four or five passable local websites to check out, and the finest of the lot is solely dedicated to football.

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Challenges Facing the Gambling Industry in Ethiopia

Even though gambling is allowed and governed by the National Lottery Administration in Ethiopia, sports betting services have found it difficult to operate there.

If there is anything that is slowing the betting businesses is poor connectivity, that is the main issue preventing the growth of the online sports betting market. At this point, outlets appear to be the best method to punt.

There have been a few new sites that are attempting to influence the Ethiopian market for online sports betting, but the nation’s inadequate internet access is one of its biggest problems.

The country’s average internet coverage is only about 5%, and because of this and this is expected to rise to 30% by the year 2028. This may be one of the major reasons why online sports betting is not very popular at the moment in the country. Ethiopia Gambling

Safaricom’s entry effect on the industry

Just recently, Giant telecommunication company Safaricom which has roots in Kenya got approval to launch its operations in the country. There is a likelihood therefore that in no time, the levels of internet access will increase tremendously across the country with a possibility of widespread 3G, 4G, and even 5G coverage across the various regions in Ethiopia.

According to Abhinav Sinha, managing director and head of technology, Safaricom today has 2.5 million subscribers in Ethiopia and serves 27 cities. The numbers are still growing demonstrating that the future is bright for mobile money adoption in the country.

Mpesa’s Influence, Opportunities, and Challenges in Ethiopia

There is also light at the end of the tunnel for the industry after Safaricom was given the green light to launch Mpesa services in the country on May 2023. This may see a rise in online sports betting businesses after operators start accepting deposits and withdrawals to their online wallets through mobile money.

We asked one operator (John – Not his real name) How mpesa’s entry into the Ethiopian telecom industry is influencing the sports betting business in Ethiopia

Well at the moment there hasn’t been an integration of any company with Mpesa. As we are waiting for mpesa to change this monopol being done by government to use only telebirr. Mpesa will transform the betting industry for sure but challenges are coming as some international betting company has made an agreement to be the only company with telebirr. At the moment we are only using Chappa the private payment gateway.

John continued

National intelligence in corporation with telebirr and other mobile money’s have stopped working with betting companies for a while now. This has killed the growth of using mobile money amount the vast sportsbetting market. If Mpesa is integrated sports betting will be at it’s peak because of thier experience in giving better services. We are all waiting until we integrate Mpesa.

We tried to understand why can’t the government allow other operators like Safaricom to integrate Mpesa on bet site platforms for all players in the market.

Safaricom isn’t pushing as ethiotelecom is doing. Ethiopia Telecom has brought many convenient packages which are really affordable but those packages don’t exist with safafi yet. The government gives his companies priority in terms of regulations and being pioneer in the OPS. The government does some things that promote telebirr well. Like making salary payment of all govt employees through telebirr only. Accepting payments through telebirr only. This makes it hard to fair play and compete in the market for private companies.

John stated

Money Laundering Factors and their influence on the Market

There have also been claims that investors in Ethiopia are limited on what amounts of money they can move out of the country.

We asked John who is an operator in one of the companies if this is one of the reasons leading to the industry being stuck and there being little progress.

The thing is the system is designed to be corrupt and there are always ways to do what should have been legal in an illegal way so that you have to be corrupt. Inflation is growing at a crazy amount and the difference between rich and poor is increasing. The government is short in cash as well so to move big junks of cash is a bit out of the question. Ethiopia Gambling

Offshore Gambling

Ethiopian gamblers have long had to make do with a variety of foreign sports betting sites, some of which use the most prestigious trademarks in the world. Because there are no rules governing betting on overseas websites, players employ UK-based service providers, for instance.


Ethiopia is a tremendously promising market that looks to become a betting hub in the near future, but government meddling in business is the main barrier. For the market to prosper, there needs to be unrestricted competition. Not only that but if companies are permitted to engage in healthy competition, more investment from other telecom companies will be attracted, which would enable the government to raise more money from both the telecom sector and even the gaming industry.

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References: Ethiopia Gambling

Jeremiah Maangi

A trusted igaming leader & author for articles bringing positive change in the African gambling industry. African gambling domains broker. Intelligent knowledge of customer acquisition and retention strategies. Available for new & existing gambling operations consulting and marketing services in Africa. Crypto enthusiast.

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