European football is the most popular sport in Africa with English Premier League leading the way by a mile. Thanks for football’s popularity, sports betting, it seems, is everywhere these days in Africa. Football fans certainly can’t escape its lures, gambling ads are seen anywhere professional sport is played let alone football.In countries like South Africa, bookmakers have cobbled together self regulations approach to advertising, agreeing that they shouldn’t promote odds during the relevant game. However, the number of ads has increased massively according to the latest data with South African Premier League and English Premier League being the most sought after by gamblers. And so, it seems, have the losses.Sports betting is already a pretty big business and it’s growing fast in Africa. Poker-machine gambling remains the biggest game in many towns, by a huge margin as one of the bookies pointed out to our blogger recently.The pokies account for over $10 billion Africans lose every year on lawful gambling activities.However, on the basis of trend over the three years to 2015-16, data estimates shows that sports betting punters will lose around $4 billion. Poker-machine revenue is up too, but nowhere near the sports betting which increased on average 36% in real terms that is, adjusted for inflation over that period. Last year, poker-machine expenditure in South Africa increased about 12% in real terms, adjusting the 3.2% nominal growth in revenue for inflation.But just because sports betting is still relatively modest compared to poker machines doesn’t mean it’s not a big problem. African countries are seeing the world’s fastest growing poker machines market, which explains why Africa will soon be among the world’s biggest gamblers. Poker machines are also known for gambling problems in countries like Uganda and Kenya.However, it does appear that increasing harm is associated with interactive gambling in line with the growth in revenue.These gambling problems are mainly affecting young jobless Africans. The proliferation of online and mobile technology to facilitate this type of gambling is almost certainly a major contributor to this burgeoning locus of harm.
As per other gambling explosions, accessibility is a key ingredient of gambling, and subsequently of harm. Accessibility through the mobile phone is a key element of the sports betting scene, and characterises the nature of both its growth and target market. Added to this is the potential for constant utilisation. Poker machines are dangerous because they’re ubiquitous and continuous in operation. Online and particularly mobile betting has the same potential.Internet-savvy young Africans with an interest in sport are right in this business’s crosshairs. A friend i spoke to told me in his native country in East Africa, he anticipate a disaster of gambling problems from this group over coming years. The online bookmaking scene has also been shaken up in recent years. Large bookies such as Sportpesa have begun to carve out significant market share for themselves. They are global giants and will do what they need to do to make their businesses grow and thats why there is a match being played between English Premier League side Everton against Gor Mahia, the sportpesa cup champions, a knockout tournament that was recently played among East African football clubs and aired live on ITV Tanzania and ITV Tanzania App for android and iOS users.Significant investments in advertising help to fuel growth in TV broadcast rights, which is no doubt welcomed by sports organisations and TV executives. Growth in this business seems to go hand-in-hand with relentless advertising and marketing activity. And the bookies are quite happy to push the boundaries.Although interactive gambling on outcomes is prohibited in most African countries once a game is underway, some bookies have sought to get around this by asking customers to turn on their microphone during a betting session. This creates a voice link akin to a phone call. Since you’re allowed to bet in-game by phone, this, the bookmakers argue, is lawful even though no one speaks.At present, there is no limit on how much you can bet with an online bookie. Reducing the stakes would go hand-in-hand with prohibiting credit betting and mean that people are much more likely to stick to a reasonable limit.Gambling can be dangerous when it’s not properly regulated. African countries need to take a reasonable approach to gambling. With effective regulation of sports betting will demonstrate that reasonable harm-reducing standards need not preclude enjoyment.